PUNE: Had staff members in the ICU of the Ahmednagar civil hospital in Maharashtra tried to rescue the patients when a fire broke out, they could have saved some more lives, a senior police official said on Thursday.
As many as 11 COVID-19 patients admitted in the ICU ward died in the blaze on the morning of November 6 while six others were rescued in time.
A doctor and three nurses have been arrested for alleged negligence in the case.
"All these staff nurses told us that when the fire started, they were inside the ICU. But during the probe we found that they were outside," said Manoj Patil, district Superintendent of Police.
CCTV footage showed that once fire started, they tried to go in but then backed out.
"There was little smoke initially, so patients should have been shifted out. But instead, they ran, to seek help or to save their own lives," Patil said.
"In those first 10 minutes, they could have pulled out at least four to six patients," the SP added.
While the nurses claimed that they could not do anything because of smoke, the relatives were seen, in CCTV footage, venturing inside to save the patients.
"One Vivek Khatik is seen going into the ICU, first taking out his mother, then returning and taking his father out," he said.
While Khatik's mother survived, his father Kadu Bal Gangadhar Khatik died due to possible suffocation.
The police's version of the events corroborated what Khatik had told PTI on the day of the tragedy.
He had also said that one patient removed his ventilator mask and saline tubes himself and crawled out to save his life.
A local court on Wednesday sent the arrested woman medical officer and staff nurses in police custody till November 12.
Divisional Commissioner Ramkrishna Game visited the hospital on Thursday.