TNIE lensman shares chilling moments of Chennai hospital on fire

I was at the Secretariat covering the Assembly session when I got the alert around 11 am, says Ashwin Prasath

Published: 28th April 2022 07:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th April 2022 11:23 AM   |  A+A-

Firemen trying to put out the blaze at Bradfield surgical block

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: When the fire broke out at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) on Wednesday, several photojournalists, who were at the spot, pitched in to help evacuate the patients from the Bradfield surgical block. TNIE lensman Ashwin Prasath shares his experience:

I was at the Secretariat covering the Assembly session when I got the alert around 11 am. As I was approaching the hospital, I could see smoke from Poonamallee High Road (near RGGGH) itself.

I entered the ground floor of Bradfield surgical block to take pictures and saw firemen hard at work to bring the fire under control; I could hear the exploding oxygen cylinders. The heat and smoke were such that I couldn’t stand there.

Soon, thick smoke engulfed the building and I began suffocating. The firemen told me to get out as there were oxygen cylinders nearby (which might explode), so I ran out. 

The aftermath of the fire leaves people distraught. (Photo | EPS) 

Later, when I entered the building from the back, I saw firemen climbing a ladder to the terrace. I, along with a few other photojournalists, followed and found nearly 100 patients and others gathered on the terrace in shock and confusion.

There were patients with leg injuries and those who had had surgeries. It would have been gruelling for the firemen, only a few, to bring all the patients down using the ladder on their own.

Firemen are hard at work. ( Photo | EPS)

So, we helped them shift the patients to a lower terrace on the same building from where they were taken to safety. The firemen carried a few patients on their shoulders (in pic).

During the chaos, the luggage of several patients got shuffled. A few mothers were searching for their children. I saw a 60-year-old woman crying and searching for her son, injured in the leg.

I also saw firemen working tirelessly. They didn’t even have a communication device like a walkie-talkie to contact those outside. I could hear a fireman shouting in the smoke to turn off the water, but nobody could hear him. Only after a while did someone heard him.


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