Sunstroke: Toll rises to 16 in Odisha's Rourkela, morgue runs out of space

Most victims in 60-70 age group; many were indoors when taken ill
An elderly woman being taken to RGH for heatstroke treatment
An elderly woman being taken to RGH for heatstroke treatment Photo | Express

ROURKELA: With six more deaths reported from two major hospitals of Rourkela, the suspected sunstroke toll in the steel city rose to 16 on Friday, making it the epicentre of the heat calamity in the state.

Sources said Atua Kerketta (61), Bangri Kharia (62) and Mathew Kandi (62), undergoing treatment for heat-related illness died at Hi-Tech Medical College & Hospital (HTMCH) on the day. Condition of two out of seven other patients being treated for heat-related illness in the hospital is stated to be critical. At least 10 patients in need of critical care were shifted to HTMCH from Rourkela Government Hospital (RGH) on Thursday night of whom three have perished. On Thursday, eight persons suffering from suspected heatstroke were pronounced received dead at RGH, while two more died during treatment. All the deaths were reported between 1 pm and 8.30 pm.

Among the victims, 10 were women. While seven of them were in the 60-70 year age bracket, three were between 50 and 54 years. Five were aged between 30 and 40. One male victim was as young as 23. Almost 70 per cent of the victims were from Rourkela and the rest from neighbouring Hathibari, Rajgangpur and Kutra area of Sundargarh district.What has emerged as a cause of concern is that not all the victims were exposed to the gruelling heatwave.

Many of the elderly persons remained indoors but suffered from heat exhaustion on Thursday when the mercury hit 46.1 degree Celsius in the steel city. Family members of some elderly victims said they were sitting in their houses when they were taken ill.

ADM and Rourkela Municipal Corporation commissioner Ashutosh Kulkarni said RGH is fully prepared with adequate number of doctors and equipment for the patients. He appealed people to stay indoors and seek treatment if feeling unwell without wasting time.

So far, 30 patients have been admitted to RGH for treatment but by the evening, another eight arrived. Meanwhile, as postmortem was conducted on the victims, the RGH morgue ran out of space.

Sundargarh CDM&PHO Dr Prakash Bal said police brought two bodies to Sundargarh district headquarters hospital (DHH) for autopsy on Thursday and Friday. While the two had died of suspected heatstroke, nobody has yet succumbed at the DHH. He said separate teams from the DHH and Sundargarh Government Medical College & Hospital have arrived at Rourkela to analyse the reasons for the string of deaths in less than 24 hours.

Sundargarh collector Parag Harshad Gavali said field inquiry would be conducted to ascertain the reason of death of those who succumbed at RGH.

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