The fire in AMRI Hospital in a southern section of Calcutta took firefighters five hours to get under control according to authorities and as reported by BBC
As many as 20 patients are feared to have died in the blaze, while many more are trapped on the upper floor of the six story building. The fire which began in the basement spread rapidly due to the storage of flammable materials in the basement and many of the deceased were victims of the fumes from the fire. patients have been trans-located to to other hospitals in the city.
Conflicting reports by the Deccan Chronicle
note that at least 40 people have died in the fire which began at 3:30 in the early morning hours.
The private hospital held 200 beds with 40 to 50 patients who were in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) section at the time and another 110 to 120 patients in the building when the fire broke out.
"The victims mostly got suffocated from the fumes. Many of them were in a serious condition in the ICU," West Bengal Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim said, adding that some firemen fell unconscious due to the fumes.
With four of the six stories engulfed in the fire, it may be considered lucky that any were able to be rescued, Javed Khan is the Fire Minister in charge of the rescue operation said:
"Some more people are believed to have been trapped. We have already rescued over 50 people."
Residents in the area are alleging that a lack of cooperation by hospital personnel created difficulty in assisting to remove patients from the building, one local resident stated:
"We were not allowed to enter early in the morning. Had we been allowed, more lives could have been saved."
Some of the patients were rescued by other patients who gave assistance in getting out of the building, while some of the more ill patients were unable to be helped.
Firefighters mustered as many as 25 fire engines to work at putting out the blaze, but as of yet, the full extent of the loss of life is unknown.