At least 10 Covid patients were killed in a massive fire that broke out at a coronavirus hospital in the Indian city of Mumbai in the small hours of Friday, officials said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, currently in Bangladesh on a two-day state visit, said that he was "pained by the loss of lives". "I pray that the injured recover soon," he tweeted from Dhaka.
The fire started at the first floor of Dreams Mall in Mumbai's Bhandup area and soon engulfed Sunrise Hospital on the fourth floor. At least 22 fire tenders were pressed into service but it took them several hours to contain the blaze.
All the Covid patients, except 10, on ventilator support have been rescued and shifted to other Covid hospitals, a fire officer told the media.
Local TV channels beamed footage of the charred bodies being pulled out of the mall.
Chief Minister of the western state of Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray, visited the hospital later in the day and sought forgiveness from the families of the victims.
"The firefighters did a great job in rescuing people. However, some who were on ventilators could not be rescued. I seek forgiveness from their families," Thackeray told reporters after visiting the spot.
The Chief Minister has also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the families of the victims.
The hospital, the Chief Minister said, had been set up to deal with the increasing cases of Covid infections in the city.
"We have been fighting against the coronavirus for the past year. When the pandemic hit the state, there were very few beds and ventilators, but we continued our fight and set up temporary hospitals. This hospital was temporarily allowed to treat coronavirus patients," he said.
Referring to preliminary reports, he said that the fire started at a shop in the mall. "I want to assure you that whoever is at fault... they will be punished."