KARACHI - Seven paramedical staff members suffered burn injuries on Sunday after a fire erupted in the emergency department of Karachi’s Sindh Government Hospital Liaquatabad, according to police. Central Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Zeeshan Shafiq Siddiqi told media that officers rushed to the spot after receiving information about an “explosion” inside the hospital.
“Seven persons were injured and were moved to the Burns Centre of Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi for treatment,” SSP Siddiqi said.
He said the Liaquatabad police superintendent and deputy superintendent, as well as the Sharifabad police station house officer, visited the spot while the Bomb Disposal Unit (BDU) was also called in to determine the exact nature of the explosion.
SSP Siddiqi said that as per the initial investigation, a short circuit occurred in the hospital’s emergency ward, which triggered a fire. He added that the compressor of a fridge, where medicines were stored, had then exploded.
Police surgeon Dr Summaiya Syed said all of the injured were paramedical staff, adding that were performing their duty when the incident occurred. She said four were in critical condition and had suffered severe burn injuries. She said the injured were in a “terrible” condition since the respiratory tracts of six had been affected, which was causing breathing problems.
A Rescue 1122 spokesperson said the fire was controlled immediately and cooling work was under way.
Caretaker Sindh Health Minister Dr Saad Niaz told media that an inquiry had been ordered into the incident.
Separately, the provincial director general of health services issued an order according to which a committee was formed to probe the facts and find those responsible for the “incident” at the hospital.
The inquiry committee was asked to submit a report within three days. The committee comprises Sindh Government Children Hospital North Nazimabad Medical Superintendent (MS) Dr Nadeem Shaikh, Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi MS Dr Khalid Bukhari, Director Health Services Karachi Dr Saqib Shaikh and Jamshoro Electro Medical Workshop Senior Executive Director Engr Zulfiqar Ali Shaikh. Meanwhile, the report by the BDU said the fire erupted in the hospital’s advanced emergency department located on the ground floor. It said an electric short circuit in a storage room triggered the fire. Subsequently, the compressor of a fridge exploded, causing minor damage to the room. The report added that the team conducted a thorough search but no detonating device or explosive material was found.