Ahmednagar Civil Hospital Medical officer Dr Vishakha Shinde and three staff nurses were arrested on Tuesday in connection with a fire that broke out at the medical facility last week, reported PTI.

Eleven people had died in the fire that broke out in the intensive care unit ward of the hospital in Maharashtra on November 6. Preliminary information suggested that a short circuit may have caused the fire.

On Tuesday, Ahmednagar (rural) Superintendent of Police Manoj Patil said that besides Shinde, they have arrested staff nurses Sapna Pathare, Asma Shaikh and Channa Anant on charges of negligence and culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

“Dr Vishakha Shinde was on duty [when the fire broke out] but she failed to report the incident,” Patil said, according to PTI. “As far as the other three staff nurses are concerned, it has been revealed in the investigation that they were outside the ICU when the fire occurred.”

The police officer said that the staff nurses are not supposed to leave the ICU. He added that it was the primary duty of a staff nurse to safeguard the patients in the event of a fire at the ICU.

On Monday, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope had said that Shinde, Pathare, Ahmednagar District Civil Surgeon Sunil Pokharna and another medical officer Suresh Dakhe have been suspended, reported The Hindu. Shaikh and Anant were terminated from their services.

The Ahmednagar police had said that 70% of the deaths in the incident were caused by smoke from the fire and the remaining died after directly getting caught in the blaze, according to the Hindustan Times. Most of the deceased were senior citizens undergoing treatment for the coronavirus disease.

Following the incident, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had ordered an investigation into the incident. He had also announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the families of the deceased.

With Saturday’s incident, Maharashtra has recorded at least nine episodes of hospital fires since August 2020, resulting in 54 deaths.

In April, at least 14 coronavirus patients admitted to a hospital in Virar in Palghar district died after a fire broke out in the medical facility. A month before that, at least 10 people died in a fire at a hospital located inside Mumbai’s Dreams Mall.

In January, 10 infants died in a hospital fire in Bhandara district. The fire had broken out at the Sick Newborn Care Unit of the Bhandara District General Hospital.

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