Delhi children's hospital fire: Police arrest owner, duty doctor; govt orders magisterial inquiry

A total of 12 infants were rescued, out of which seven have died and others have been admitted to a hospital for further treatment.
 Policemen outside a children's hospital where a fire broke out on Saturday night at Vivek Vihar area, in New Delhi, Sunday, May 26, (L) Naveen Kichi, the owner of the Baby care centre
Policemen outside a children's hospital where a fire broke out on Saturday night at Vivek Vihar area, in New Delhi, Sunday, May 26, (L) Naveen Kichi, the owner of the Baby care centrePTI, ANI

NEW DELHI: Police arrested the owner of the east Delhi children's hospital where a fire killed six newborns, officials said on Sunday. One of the doctors who was on duty, Dr Akash, has also been arrested.

Dr Naveen Kichi had been on the run since the fire outbreak late on Saturday, they said.

Meanwhile, the Delhi government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the fire tragedy.

In an order issued on Sunday, Divisional Commissioner Ashwani Kumar directed the district magistrate of the Shahdara district to inquire into the fire tragedy that occurred on Saturday night.

"And whereas it is essential to cause a magisterial inquiry into the aforesaid incident. Now therefore, District Magistrate (Shahadra)/Chairman, District Disaster Management Authority is hereby directed to inquire into the said fire tragedy so as: To ascertain the circumstances that led to the fire tragedy. To fix the responsibility on the persons responsible for the said incident. To suggest the measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future," it said.

The order directed that the inquiry report to be submitted "as expeditiously as possible".

Delhi Fire Services officials said a blaze erupted at the Baby Care New Born Hospital in east Delhi's Vivek Vihar area around 11:30 pm on Saturday and spread to two adjacent buildings.

Twelve newborns were rescued from the facility but six of them died.

Five babies are undergoing treatment at another hospital, they said.

Delhi Police has booked him under sections 336 (act endangering life of personal safety of others) and 304A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC at Vivek Vihar police station.

Hours after the tragic incident at the East Delhi hospital, another fire broke out at a multi-storeyed residential building in Shahdara's Krishna Nagar, leaving three people dead.

Delhi Fire Services Director Atul Garg informed that they received a call regarding the fire at a baby care hospital at 11.32 pm, following which nine fire tenders were immediately pressed into service.

"A fire call from the Baby Care Centre, near ITI, Block B of the Vivek Vihar area, was received. A total of nine fire tenders were dispatched," Garg said.

By the time firemen reached the spot, the building had been engulfed in flames. Yet the firemen and the police personnel rescued 12 infants from the building and took them to a nearby hospital in east Delhi. According to the fire officials, it took them around 70 minutes to control the inferno.

Sharing more details, DCP (Shahdara) Surendra Chaudhary said there were 12 newborns admitted to the hospital and one more had already died even before the fire broke out.

"All 12 new-born babies were rescued from the hospital with the help of other people and shifted to the East Delhi Advance NICU hospital in Vivek Vihar for treatment. Out of these babies, 6 were declared brought dead," Chaudhary said.

The DCP said that all seven bodies, including one who had already died even before the fire incident, were further shifted to Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital for a postmortem.

Guilty won't be spared: Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the children's hospital is heartbreaking and warned that those responsible for negligence will not be spared. In a post on X, Kejriwal said the government stood with those who lost their children in the fire incident in Vivek Vihar, and added the administration was ensuring proper treatment to the injured.

He said the reasons behind the fire were being probed and those found negligent will not be spared.

Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj directed the chief secretary to ensure a speedy inquiry into the fire incident and said the strictest punishment will be given to those found negligent or involved in any wrongdoing.

Following the incident, Bharadwaj sent directions to Health Secretary SB Deepak Kumar and Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar. In the communication, he said directions were emailed to Deepak Kumar since he was not responding to phone calls and messages.

Bharadwaj ordered a speedy inquiry and sought the names and designations of officers or private people responsible for the "negligence." He has also issued directions to ensure free treatment of the rescued infants in the best private hospitals under the city government's Farishtey scheme.

Ordering the speedy release of compensation to the families of the victims and the injured, Bharadwaj also directed that the arrests of those running the facility be expedited.

Condoling the deaths, President Droupadi Murmu prayed for strength to the bereaved parents, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the tragedy is heart-rending.

"The fire tragedy at a hospital in Delhi is heart-rending. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this incredibly difficult time. I pray that those injured recover at the earliest," Modi said in a post on X.

In a post on X, the President said, "The news of the death of many children due to a fire in a hospital in Vivek Vihar, Delhi is heart-rending. May God give strength to the bereaved parents and relatives to bear this shock. I pray for the speedy recovery of other children injured in this incident."

The incident comes on a day when at least 27 people were killed in Gujarat's Rajkot city when a massive fire swept through a crowded game zone and the building collapsed.

(With inputs from PTI)

 Policemen outside a children's hospital where a fire broke out on Saturday night at Vivek Vihar area, in New Delhi, Sunday, May 26, (L) Naveen Kichi, the owner of the Baby care centre
Rajkot game zone blaze toll rises to 28; FIR says amusement centre had no fire department NOC

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