KARACHI: An inquiry committee looking into the causes of a recent fire at the Sindh Government Hospital Liaquatabad has identified several lapses in hospital’s functioning that led to the tragic loss of several lives in addition to extensive damage to the facility’s emergency department.

The fire that had erupted on Feb 11 caused serious burn injuries to seven hospital employees. Four of them, including two paramedics, have died while two victims are still under treatment at a private hospital.

The committee set up by the director general of health services of Sindh also found that the hospital had no firefighting system and the emergency block was deprived of gas supplies for years.

In its report, a copy of which is available with Dawn, the committee stated that the possible cause of the fire was an electrical short circuit and that no blast had occurred.

“It surfaced that Mr Mahesh (sanitation worker) plugged in his mobile phone charger and turned on the switch which resulted in a spark and sudden eruption of fire which rapidly spread in the room and the surrounding area causing extensive damage and fatal injuries to the employees working inside the room,” the report stated.

Identifies several ‘lapses’ after four people died in a blaze in the health facility 10 days ago

On visiting the scene, the committee found that the compressor of a refrigerator was still intact and other evidence of the blast were not found.

The committee also noticed a non-functional gas line. “In fact, the entire block where the incident occurred had no gas supplies for years. The same was also confirmed by the inspection team of the Sui Southern Gas Company Ltd.”

The committee members further observed that the emergency block lacked a proper electricity supply system. “The electric supply of the hospital lacks proper functioning of electric breakers and no fire-fighting system is in place in the whole hospital to avert any such situation,” the report said.

The committee’s recommendations included establishment of a proper firefighting system at the entire hospital with steps for staff training and drill on fire safety, assessment of electric wiring including circuit breakers and gas pipelines and removal of the bird market outside the hospital.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2024

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