Sadiq Engineer, a ward boy in his 30s was on night duty. Having finished most of his work, he was sitting near the counter with another ward boy, Ramzan. “There was the sound of an ‘oxygen cylinder empty’ alarm, so I went out to replace it. Usually, we remove the empty one and connect the refill. I noticed a short circuit had resulted in a fire at the meter room of the hospital. I got the fire extinguisher and sprayed it on the fire but it was no use and the flames spread further inside the hospital. So, we went inside and almost used three more extinguishers to douse the fire, but by now, it had spread to the first floor and the fire brigade was called. The ground floor meter wires are connected to the first floor,” Sadiq explained. Locals helped them to carry out rescue work and later on, police and the fire brigade joined them.
‘Didn’t know it would be our last meeting’
“My mother blessed me and my wife, placing her hand on my head. We discussed our spiritual leaders and left the hospital at 10.30pm on Tuesday. I never thought it would be our last meeting and her last blessing,” says Niyaz Salami, the son of Halima Salami, a 70-year-old woman among the four dead in the Mumbra Prime Criticare hospital fire.
‘My mother was fine when I left her’
Halima complained of uneasiness on the night of April 26. “So we brought her to the hospital on Tuesday and admitted her at 12:30pm as she had breathing problems. She was admitted in the general ward and had seemed fine. I was with her all day and had decided to get her discharged on Wednesday. We left in the night and she was accompanied by my 17-year-old daughter. We were later informed by my doctor that she became critical at 11.30pm and had been shifted to the Intensive care unit. Even though she was the first woman to be rescued, she died of suffocation," said her son Niyaz, who was informed by the doctors about his mother being shifted to Bilal hospital. “When we reached the hospital my daughter was in a state of shock and unable to speak, seeing her grandmother’s state,” said Niyazi.
‘Was about to move my father to a Covid hospital’
Another of the four dead was Harish Sonawane, 57, who was admitted in the hospital on Saturday with breathing problems. “He was undergoing treatment and as he had breathing problems, we had conducted a Covid test. On Tuesday, a positive report was received and doctors suggested that I shift my father to a Covid-19 hospital on Wednesday. In the morning the first news we heard was about the fire. My father was shifted to a
Covid hospital, but before we could get a bed there, he was declared dead due to suffocation,” said Vishal Sonawane, waiting at the civic hospital to claim his father’s body.
All the four bodies were sent to Chhatrapati Shivaji hospital in Kalwa for post mortem. It was 2pm by the time the bodies were handed over to the respective families.
Felt hopeful when locals began to break window from outside, says survivor
Sayed Rehan, 50, an insurance adviser, was admitted in the general ward of the hospital. “I was suffering from pneumonia and had breathing problems. I was accompanied by my son who went to get sehri for roza. As soon as the fire started and there was smoke everywhere, I went to the door but found it locked. The room was filled completely smoke. I did not know what to do. But I felt hopeful when locals began to break the window. I could hear the noise, but it was a half hour before we were rescued. They broke the window pane and pulled off the grille and got us out. I went blank for a while and was shifted to Bilal Hospital,” said Rehan, who had put down a Rs 20,000-deposit on Tuesday night and was scared that the money would be taken away by the hospital.