A deadly fire late Friday raced through a hospital treating Covid-19 patients in Bharuch, a city in western India’s Gujarat State. Some early news reports said as many as 15 people had died, some burned in their beds.
Videos posted to social media showed a part of the hospital in flames and patients being evacuated.
The blaze at the Bharuch hospital, about 200 miles north of Mumbai, erupted as Covid overwhelms India, which has been assaulted with deaths and infections in a second wave of Covid-19 that has overwhelmed the health system in the nation of 1.4 billion.
Two hospital fires in India last week claimed the lives of dozens of coronavirus patients. At least 22 coronavirus patients died at a hospital in Maharashtra State when a leak cut off their oxygen supply. Two days later, a fire at another hospital in the state left at least 13 Covid-19 patients dead.
The second wave in India has crammed hospitals to unbearably full capacity, exhausted oxygen supplies and left desperate people dying in line waiting to see doctors. Mass cremations have been held around the country.
The health authorities are now reporting more than 300,000 cases and more than 3,000 deaths a day.
A growing number of countries have curtailed travel to and from India. As of Tuesday, the American government’s move will bar most non-U.S. citizens from entering the United States from India, the Biden administration announced on Friday.
India’s vaunted vaccine industry — a world leader — has been overwhelmed with demand for Covid-19 vaccine and has restricted exports to satisfy the need at home.
Other fires in hospitals treating Covid-19 patients around the world have heightened the devastation at a time when they are struggling to meet the demands of overwhelming cases and deaths.
Last week, a fire set off by an exploding oxygen cylinder killed at least 82 people, most of them Covid-19 patients and their relatives, at a Baghdad hospital. The Interior Ministry said that 110 more people were hurt, many with severe burns succumbed to their injuries.