Ten babies died in a fire that broke out at a hospital in Bhandara district of Maharashtra at around 2 AM. Condoling the deaths, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the accident a “heart-wrenching tragedy”. At the time of incident, seventeen babies were admitted at the Special Newborn Care Unit of the four-storeys hospital. While seven who were admitted to the inborn ward were saved, those in the outbound ward of the unit couldn’t be rescued.

Expressing condolences, PM Modi wrote on Twitter: “Heart-wrenching tragedy in Bhandara, Maharashtra, where we have lost precious young lives. My thoughts are with all the bereaved families. I hope the injured recover as early as possible”.

Babies who died were between few days to three months. According to reports, nurses raised the alarm when they noticed smoke coming out of the neonatal care unit.

“Our staff extinguished the fire as soon as they could. The smoke led to the babies suffocating,” District civil surgeon Pramod Khandate said. It is said that short circuit has set off the blaze, however, the cause is yet to be confirmed.

“The Chief Minister has ordered a probe in the entire incident. He spoke to the district collector and police superintendent and asked them to probe the fire,” Maharashtra Heath Minister Rajesh Tope’s office said in a statement.

“As I have been told, a short circuit caused the fire. The staff – nurses, ward boys – saved seven babies. Seven newborns died due to suffocation, and three others died due to the blaze,” Tope said. Bodies have been given to the families without postmortem. The state government has announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh.

 “Whoever is at fault will be punished. We will take all the precautions needed to prevent such incidents in future,” the Health Minister promised.

Meanwhile, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar has ordered an audit of all the neonatal care units of government and private hospitals across the state.