'Death of babies in Pakistan hospital fire shocking'

Sat, Jun 9 2012 11:21 IST | 1 Views | Add your comment
Islamabad, June 9

The death of seven babies in a fire at a hospital in Lahore is shocking, said a Pakistani daily that noted the "total absence of fire-extinguishing equipment, a fire exit and trained staff which turned an accident into a tragedy".

Seven newborn babies died in the fire that broke out in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the Services Hospital in Lahore. Another nine are injured, six of them critically.

At least 26 underweight and premature babies were under treatment in the unit when an electrical short circuit reportedly caused the fire.

An editorial in the News International Saturday said: "It seems that a nurse had notified frequent sparking in the air-conditioner in the nursery section but the hospital administration had ignored her complaints.

"What was most shocking, however, was the total absence of fire-extinguishing equipment, a fire exit and trained staff which turned an accident into a tragedy," it said.

The daily cited witnesses as saying that the staff on duty, including nurses and doctors, made a run for their lives as soon as the fire broke out, leaving behind the helpless babies.

The editorial highlighted hazards in hospitals.

"Hazards include damaged and dangerous equipment, no smoke alarms, complete absence of untrained staff and a lack of escape routes," it said.

Stating that the safety of the ailing cannot be neglected, the editorial said: "...with infants and the elderly, in the event of an emergency, they are doubly vulnerable, either completely helpless in finding their way out or needing additional help to negotiate exits."

It called for urgent action to protect people from the serious and tragic consequences that could occur in the event of a fire.

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