SAHIWAL: A devastating fire broke out in the pediatric medicine ward of Sahiwal Teaching Hospital (STH) on Saturday morning due to a short circuit in the air conditioning system.

Four infants, who were in critical condition according to the hospital MS, died while 74 were rescued by parents, hospital staff, security personnel, and Rescue 1122 teams.

Chief Minister Mariam Nawaz took notice of the incident and directed Commissioner Shoaib Iqbal to submit a report within 48 hours.

Eyewitnesses described the chaotic scene as parents and hospital staff rushed to evacuate the children. Ward boy Arshad was hailed as a hero for single-handedly rescuing over 20 children from the third floor. Ward supervisor Arshad also put in a lot of effort. Rescue firefighters broke window panes to save the remaining children.

Commissioner Iqbal confirmed that no child died from the fire or suffocation as they (the four who perished) were already in critical condition.

A hospital source confirmed that the fire was caused by a short circuit in the air conditioning system. Parents expressed concern over the lack of emergency firefighting equipment in the pediatric wards.

STH CEO Prof Dr Imran Hasan formed a four-member inquiry committee to determine the cause of the fire. The committee will be headed by Medical Superintendent Dr Akhter Mahboob.

The building’s condition is being assessed, and an estimated millions of rupees worth of pediatric medical equipment were destroyed in the fire.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2024

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