Around 1,200 patients, including those at the intensive care unit (ICU) and the surgery ward, had to be evacuated from the capital's Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital following a fire yesterday.
Most of the patients were shifted to other government hospitals after the fire broke out around 6:00pm, its officials said.
Firefighters of 16 units brought the flames under control around 9:00pm.
What caused the fire could not be confirmed immediately.
Meanwhile, a one-year old baby died while being relocated to a nearby private hospital, a doctor said, quoting the relatives of the child.
Dr Ferdawsi A Purna, a duty doctor at Care Hospital, said, “Relatives brought the baby to our hospital around 7:00pm and requested he be provided with an oxygen mask. They said they brought the baby from the Suhrawardy hospital.
“But we found that the child was already dead,” the doctor said.
The fire caused immense suffering to the patients and their relatives at Suhrawardy hospital, one of the major hospitals of the country.
A relative of one of the patients, Sumon, seemed totally confused after his grandfather Abdur Rashid, who had been admitted to the ICU following a massive stroke, was lying on hospital bed on the hospital premises.
“I took my nana out [of the ICU] after hearing about the fire. I don't know what will happen now,” he told this reporter around 8:00pm.
Another patient Murad, who underwent a surgery three days ago, was seen lying on a similar bed nearby.
Panicked relatives, attendants and nurses were seen wheeling other patients out of the hospital on stretchers or carrying them out on their shoulders.
Apart from the hospital staffers, students from the Suhrawardy medical college and the nearby Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University rushed in to help.
Doctors were seen attending the patients.
Some relatives said they hurriedly came out of the hospital, without taking the patients' medical files.
As the news of the fire spread, relatives of many patients rushed to the hospital.
Talking to reporters, the hospital's director Prof Uttam Kumar Barua claimed the fire originated at the children's ward on the second floor of the new building of the hospital and spread to the store room on the ground floor.
Fire officials, however, suspected the fire broke out at the store room.
A seven-member committee was formed to investigate the incident and was asked to submit its report in three days.
Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan, director general of the Fire Service and Civil Defence, claimed all patients were evacuated safely.
Prof Uttam Kumar Barua said the patients were evacuated and sent to different government hospitals, including the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) and Mitford hospital.
“The patients who were at the ICU have been sent to ICUs of other hospitals. We will admit all our patients again once the situation improves,” he said.
Around 8:45pm, the hospital authorities asked the patients and their attendants to go to nearby hospitals for treatment.
Many of the patients, especially those in critical condition, were whisked away in ambulances to different government and private hospitals. The ambulances left blaring sirens.
More than 100 private ambulances carried patients for free, said the owners of the vehicles.
Around 200 patients were shifted to the DMCH until 11:00pm.
Initially, the emergency unit of the hospital was struggling to handle the sudden rush of the patients. Doctors from other units and off-duty came to help as well.
One patient was admitted to the hospital's ICU.
While briefing journalists last night at Suhrawardy hospital, GM Saleh Uddin, secretary to the health education and family welfare division, said, “Smoke engulfed the children's ward first. There were a total of 70 patients and all of them were evacuated to safety immediately.
“The electricity supply was also snapped.”
The emergency ward was reopened at night, he added.
“The other units, except for those wards in the affected areas, will be reopened soon.”
Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Malik visited the hospital and enquired about the evacuated patients.