About 30 patients and ten hotel staff were inside the building when the incident happened.
COVID-19 patients, undergoing treatment at a hotel-turned-quarantine centre, jumped from the first and second floors to escape from the building as it went up in flames.
The mishap occurred in the early hours of Sunday at Hotel Swarna Palace, which was taken for lease by Ramesh Hospitals, for running a COVID care centre. About 30 patients and ten hotel staff were inside the building when the incident happened.
With flames engulfing rooms on the first and second floors, a couple of patients jumped through the windows and screamed for help.
Many patients also fell unconscious in the rooms. Fire, Police and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel climbed to the windows on ladders, broke open the glass panes and rescued the patients with the help of stretchers.
As the family members of the patients were not present at the spot, there was nobody to identify the victims. Rescue personnel refrained form shifting the patients immediately, as it was a COVID care centre.
Speaking to The Hindu, NDRF 10th Battalion Commandant Zahid Khan said that about 25 men were deployed with PPE kits and life saving equipment, to rescue the patients from the fire mishap.
“The COVID patients were already suffering respiratory illnesses and compounding their troubles was the thick smoke circulating in the air-conditioned rooms which lead to the patients falling unconscious,” a police officer said.
“We rescued a few patients and brought them out of the hotel. But there was lack of clarity regarding where to shift them as they were COVID-19 patients. There were no attendants to take care of the patients,” an NDRF personnel who took part in the rescue operation said.
Heart rending scenes took place at the spot, as the family members of the victims rushed to the hospitals and enquired with the officials about the welfare of their dear ones. Hospital staff denied entry for attendants as the victims were COVID-19 patients.
“A few patients died due to burns while others succumbed after inhaling the smoke in the rooms,” a fire officer said.
Home Minister Makathoti Sucharita, Deputy Chief Minister and Health Minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas, Information Minister Perni Venkataramaiah, Endowments Minister Vellampalli Srinivas, Rajya Sabha Member Mopidevi Venkata Ramana and others rushed to the spot and enquired about the rescue operations.
“We are trying to identify the patients who died in the fire mishap,” said Police Commissioner Bathina Srinivasulu.