Eight COVID-19 patients die in hospital fire in western India

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Eight COVID-19 patients have died in a fire that broke out in the intensive care ward of a private hospital in the Indian city of Ahmedabad early on Thursday.

Police stopped angry relatives from entering the Shrey Hospital after the tragedy which, according to emergency services, was caused by a medical staff member's personal protective equipment (PPE) catching alight.

"A staffer whose PPE caught fire ran out of the ward to douse it but the fire spread rapidly to the whole ward," said Rajesh Bhatt, additional chief fire officer of the Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services.

"Five men and three women, who were undergoing treatment for the novel coronavirus were not in a position to escape... they died due to smoke and heat caused by the fire," he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet said "he was saddened by the tragic hospital fire" in his home state.

An official investigation into the incident is currently underway.

It comes as India recorded 1.96 million positive cases of coronavirus, including 40,699 deaths. 

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