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LAHORE, June 7: It was the third major fire at Services Hospital during the last two years.

The Inquiry reports of the previous two fire incidents were not made public nor any official responsible for negligence was punished, a source said.

A two-year-old boy and a man had received burn injures while equipment worth over Rs30 million was damaged when a fire broke out in three operation theatres of the hospital in October 2010.

The state-of-the-art operation theatres were established by the father-in-law of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif 10 years ago. They operation were named after Bano Meraj, the mother-in-law of the chief minister.

An inquiry committee, consisting of surgery department head Prof Dr Sarfraz Ahmad, urology department head Prof Riaz Tasleem, pediatrician department head Prof Muhammad Ali Khan and the then DMS Dr Muhammad Saeed was formed to probe the fire.

Similarly, at least four patients had fainted while equipment, including three monitors, were damaged when a fire erupted in the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) of the same hospital in November 2010.

The then health secretary Fawad Hasan Fawad had constituted a four-member committee to probe the fire. Headed by the then health additional secretary Masood Mukhtar, the committee comprised Prof Dr Khawar Ali of the King Edward Medical University (KEMU), Punjab Institute of Cardiology bio-medical engineer Humayun Sarwar and civil engineer Akbar Ali. The health secretary had directed the committee to finalise its report within 72 hours.

Initially the cause of these two major fire incidents was also said to be short-circuit.

Special assistant to chief minister on health Khawaja Salman expressed his ignorance about the inquiry reports. He was taking to media at Services Hospital on Thursday. To a question, he said he had no role in the Punjab government at that time.

TOLL CONFUSION: The government representatives had no credible information about the death toll in the wake of Thursday’s fire and caused a lot of confusion.

Shortly after the incident, DCO Noorul Amin Mengal told media about one death. Half an hour Later Khawaja Salman Rafique endorsed the DCO’s statement. Services Hospital Principal Prof Dr Faisal Masood also confirmed the death of one baby.

Meanwhile quoting some sources, the media kept on insisting that at least six babies had died in the fire but the officials confirmed just one death .

Minutes later Khawaja Salman announced three deaths. In the evening, he put the toll at six.

PARENTS: Parents and relatives of 26 babies mysteriously disappeared from the hospital.

An official seeking anonymity told Dawn the hospital administration took the relatives of the newborns to other nearby hospitals to keep them away from the media. The relatives agreed to leave the Services Hospital when they were told that their babies were being shifted to other hospitals for treatment.

PROBE: The chief minister’s inspection team also started a probe into the Thursday fire.

Meanwhile, two bodies of burnt newborns were handed over to their parents while DNA test was carried out on remaining bodies for their identification.-- Asif Chaudhry.