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Five people dead in Dhanbad hospital fire

Doctor couple and relatives among casualties, patients unhurt
The charred corridor leading to the doctor couple’s room at the hospital on Saturday.
The charred corridor leading to the doctor couple’s room at the hospital on Saturday.
Shabbir Hussain

Animesh Bisoee   |   Jamshedpur   |   Published 29.01.23, 02:54 AM

Five persons, including a doctor couple, were killed in a fire at a hospital in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad in the early hours of Saturday.

The alleged cause of the fire was a short-circuit at the three-storey hospital, owned by the deceased doctor couple — Dr Vikash Hazra, 62, and Dr Prema Hazra, 56, both renowned gynaecologists and obstetricians of the coal town.


The owners’ nephew Sohan Khamari, 30, domestic help Tara Devi, 70, a relative who had come from Bengal identified as Shambhu Singha, 32, and a pet dog also died in the incident.

Another relative of the doctor couple who had come from their native village in Bengal, Sunil Mandal, 60, has been injured and admitted to the Dhanbad medical college and hospital.

None of the patients (mostly pregnant women) has been injured since they were helped by the staff to get out of the hospital.

Dhanbad civil surgeon Dr Alok Vishwakarma, who was well known to the deceased doctor couple, said that the bodies of all the deceased have been sent for post-mortem to the Shaheed Nirmal Mahato Medical College in Dhanbad but prima facie it appears to be the death because of suffocation.

“The bodies of the deceased have been sent by the police for post-mortem to the government medical college and hospital and the exact reason for death could be known only after the reports of the autopsy. But prima facie there was no external burn injury and the death might have been caused to all five persons because of suffocation from the smoke that the fire caused. Their hospital (RC Hazra Memorial Hospital) was listed under Clinical Establishment Act and we assume that they might be undertaking regular fire safety drills,” said Dr Vishwakarma.

He also said that fire extinguishers were found in the hospital but whether they were put to use to douse the flames is a matter of investigation.

Dhanbad deputy commissioner Sandeep Singh said that according to the protocol, an FIR has been registered by the Dhanbad police.

“An FIR has been registered for the fire incident which prima facie appears to be caused by short-circuit. However, the exact reason can only be known after the police investigating team comes up with their report. None of the patients (around 10) have been injured and they have been shifted to other nursing homes,” said Singh.

Dhanbad deputy superintendent of police (law and order) Arvind Binha said that the relatives of the deceased doctor couple have been informed and the last rites would be held after their arrival.

"We are investigating all aspects of the incident. A forensic team will also be arriving from Ranchi for assistance in the investigation. The last rites would be held by the family members. We have informed the son and daughter of the couple about the incident,” said Binha.

According to the staff members of the hospital, the fire started in the storeroom of the hospital on the ground floor around 1.30am and started intensifying with smoke. The fire spread to the doctor’s residential room, which was located on the second floor of the same building, through the electric wires but before the doctors could wake up from their sleep, the entire room and the corridor were filled with smoke.

“Around 10 fire tenders arrived at the spot within 30 minutes and doused the flames in an hour. However, when the doctors were taken out of the room, they were unconscious and were declared brought dead at the nearby Patliputra Nursing Home,” said a staff member who identified himself as Bunty Kumar.

Dr Vikash’s brother Dr Sameer Hazra was lucky to escape the accident. Although he was on the second floor, the toxic smoke did not reach his room.

The hospital was established in 1982. Dr Vikas was the son of well-known gynaecologist Dr CC Hazra. In the 1950s, private colliery owners of Gujarat appointed Dr CC Hazra (from Bengal) for providing medical services in Dhanbad.

After the nationalisation of the coal industry in the country, Dr Vikas’s father set up a private maternity hospital — RC Hazra Memorial Hospital — on Telephone Exchange Road in Dhanbad.

The doctor couple has left behind a son named Ayush and a daughter named Prerna, both medical students.

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