At least four children have died and seven more are in serious condition following a fire in a pediatric intensive care unit at Kamala Nehru Hospital in the central Indian city of Bhopal.
“The fire in the children’s ward of Kamala Nehru Hospital is unfortunate. The rescue operations were swift. The fire is under control, but unfortunately the children were not saved,” Madhya State Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said in statements to the newspaper “The Hindustan Times”.
Chouhan has already ordered an investigation to clarify what happened with the participation of high-level health officials.
Twelve fire engines were used and health authorities began evacuating but were unable to save all of the children. When the fire broke out, 40 minors were admitted into the plant, said Health Secretary Vishwas Sarang.
The city of Bhopal was the scene of one of the worst chemical disasters in history in 1984 when around 40 tons of toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide factory and spread throughout the city.
Around half a million people were exposed to the poison gas leak, which, according to unofficial reports, claimed between 7,000 and 10,000 deaths in the first few hours – only 3,500 according to the government – and around 20,000 deaths in the following hours for 20 years.
It is estimated that 70 percent of the people near the industrial site continue to consume contaminated water and 26 years after the disaster the place is still not decontaminated and at least 100,000 people continue to experience health problems without getting any medical care they need. Survivors are still waiting for compensation.