Fourteen patients have died after a fire broke out in an Indian hospital in Virar area near Mumbai, Maharashtra.

The fire, now put out, started at the intensive care unit (ICU) on the second floor of the four-storey Vijay Vallabh Hospital after a blast in the air conditioning unit, District disaster control cell chief Vivekanand Kadam said.

There were 90 patients in the hospital, of which 18 were in the ICU. The hospital was also treating Covid-19 patients. Remaining patients in the ICU were rescued and moved to other hospitals in the area.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement in response to the incident saying: “The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has condoled deaths due to fire in Covid-19 hospital in Virar. He wished early recovery for the injured.

“The Prime Minister approved ex-gratia of $2,659.12 (Rs200,000) each from PMNRF for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the hospital fire in Virar, Maharashtra. $664.78 (Rs50,000) would be given to those seriously injured.”

An investigation into the incident has been ordered by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

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The tragedy comes at a time when the country’s already overwhelmed health care system is struggling with a second wave of Covid-19.

India is also facing an oxygen supply shortfall. The country recorded 332,730 new coronavirus cases on 23 April.

On 21 April, an oxygen tank leak at Dr Zakir Hussain Hospital in Nashik, Maharashtra led to the deaths of 24 Covid-19 patients who were on ventilator support.

Maharashtra, which continues to remain the worst-hit state in the country, recorded 67,013 fresh Covid-19 cases on 22 April. It has a total caseload of over four million.