At least 13 patients have died in a fire at the intensive care unit of a hospital in western India early Friday, officials said.

The fire broke out at the four-storey Vijay Vallabh Hospital in Maharashtra state’s Virar region, some 70 kilometres from the state capital, Mumbai.

“Thirteen patients have died in the tragedy. There were 90 patients in the hospital at the time of the incident, and most of them have been transferred to other hospitals,” hospital chief Dilip Shah told reporters.

The fire spread rapidly after it broke out in the intensive care unit located on the second floor of the hospital.

Images showed people mourning the death of their loved ones while others gathered outside the hospital inquiring about their relatives.

Maharashtra, with a total caseload of 4 million Covid-19 infections, is the country’s worst-hit state.

State health minister Rajesh Tope said a probe had been ordered to determine the cause of the fire and promised strict action if any laxity was found on part of the hospital management.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the deaths “tragic” and offered condolences to the families of the victims.

Maharashtra was the scene of another tragedy on Wednesday when 24 coronavirus patients died after an oxygen tanker leaked outside a hospital, disrupting supply to patients for half an hour.
Last month, 10 patients died in Mumbai after a fire that broke out in a mall reached a hospital.

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