Walls scorched black, beds gutted and fan blades bent due to heat -- such was the scene at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital yesterday, following Thursday's fire.
With its four wards completely gutted, the hospital has partially reopened while many patients, who were evacuated and shifted to other hospitals, have started to come back.
However, the hospital was not admitting any child patient as the children's ward was badly damaged. Women's ward was also severely affected by the fire.
From the ground floor's storeroom to the second floor's children's ward, on the same side, was completely gutted.
Hospital sources said as of yesterday, Intensive Care Unit, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, operation theatre, emergency unit, and some other units were fully operational.
Around 1,200 patients, including those at ICU and surgery ward, had to be evacuated. The health and home ministries formed two committees to investigate whether short-circuit caused the fire.
Visiting the hospital around 11am yesterday, it was seen that many patients were returning to the hospital from DMCH, Nitor and other hospitals. Some came in ambulances, some in auto-rickshaws and rickshaws, depending on distance.
“I took my father to DMCH yesterday [Thusrday]. But the doctors there said we can go back to Suhrawardy hospital,” Rakibul Islam of Barishal told this correspondent.
A total of 1,174 patients -- 526 male, 576 female and 72 children -- were shifted to other government hospitals on Thusrday night, said Suhrawardy hospital's Director Prof Uttam Kumar Barua.
Four wards out of 13, and a burn unit, will remain closed for investigation, he said.
“The emergency ward reopened last night [Thursday] and some others went on operation today [yesterday]. We hope all the wards except for those four affected will be able to resume normal function from tomorrow [today],” he added.
Many important files containing patients' history were either burnt or lost due to the fire. Patients' attendants were seen running around, looking for those.
Till last evening, around 700 patients returned to the hospital and resumed treatment.
Meanwhile stressing the need for improving fire fighting capabilities at all government hospitals, Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque yesterday said the fire incident at Suhrawardy hospital is a lesson for all concerned.
The minister said this while addressing a press briefing at his Baridhara residence.
He said electrical connections and damaged sections of the hospital will be examined to find the reason behind the accident.
Talking to reporters at the hospital, AKM Shakil Newaz, director (operation and maintenance) of Fire Service and Civil defence, repeated that the fire originated from the ground floor. “The hospital lacked effective response to fight the fire...”
“There was some fire equipment at the hospital… If they had informed us in time, the rescue operation would have been better.”
Shakil said the fire originated from storeroom, where many flammable products and chemicals were stored, thus it spread so rapidly.
“Three factors -- radiation, conduction and convection -- helped the fire spread quickly,” he added.
Shakil informed that 95 percent of the country's hospitals are at fire risk and said they would now strictly monitor the fire safety measures of the hospitals.