A deadly fire late Friday raced through a hospital treating COVID-19 patients in Bharuch, a city in western India’s Gujarat state. Some early news reports said as many as 15 people had died, some burned in their beds.
Videos posted to social media showed part of the hospital in flames and patients being evacuated.
The blaze at the hospital, located about 200 miles north of Mumbai, erupted as COVID overwhelms the health system of India, which has been assaulted with deaths and infections in a second wave of COVID.
Two hospital fires last week in India, a nation of 1.4 billion people, claimed the lives of dozens of coronavirus patients. At least 22 coronavirus patients died at a hospital in Maharashtra State when a leak cut off their oxygen supply. Two days later, a fire at another hospital in the state killed at least 13 COVID patients.
The nation’s second wave of COVID has crammed hospitals to unbearably full capacity, exhausted oxygen supplies and left desperate people dying in line waiting to see doctors. Mass cremations have been held around the country.
The health authorities are now reporting more than 300,000 cases and more than 3,000 deaths a day.
A growing number of countries have curtailed travel to and from India. On Friday, the Biden administration announced that starting Tuesday, most non-U. S. citizens will be barred from entering the country from India.
India’s vaunted vaccine industry — a world leader — has been overwhelmed with demand for COVID vaccine and has restricted exports to satisfy the need at home.
Other fires in hospitals treating COVID patients around the world have heightened the devastation at a time when they are struggling to meet the demands of overwhelming cases and deaths.
Last week at a Baghdad hospital, a fire set off by an exploding oxygen cylinder killed at least 82 people, most of them COVID patients and their relatives. The Interior Ministry said 110 more people were hurt.