Air India has offered free assistance to the injured victims of Bhubaneswar’s SUM Hospital fire, so that they can travel to New Delhi or Mumbai for further treatment. The patients can travel along with an attendant via Air India flights to these two cities. “PM directed us to look into matter. We have contacted AIIMS, Bhubaneswar. All facilities are being provided,” union health minister JP Nadda said.

The Centre is in touch with the state government officials and necessary help will be provided, Nadda assured.

Meanwhile, the injured patients admitted at various government hospitals are getting best treatment free of cost, AB Ota, Revenue Divisional Commissioner, told ANI.

The toll in the fire which broke out in the hospital has risen to 19.

The state government has set up a three-member panel under the revenue divisional commissioner to probe the incident.

The fire broke out due to a short circuit in the dialysis ward of the first floor and spread to the nearby Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward of the hospital.

The flames rapidly spread to other areas on the same floor of the hospital. Unfortunately, most of the patients were on the first floor. Doctors say majority of deaths occurred due to suffocation.

At least ten fire tenders were rushed to the spot for dousing the flames. Besides this, over a dozen ambulances were pressed into service to ferry patients to other hospitals.

All the 500 patients in the hospital were evacuated from the building.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief on the incident. “Deeply anguished by the loss of lives in the hospital fire in Odisha. The tragedy is mind-numbing. My thoughts are with bereaved families,” he tweeted.

The prime minister had also asked health minister JP Nadda to facilitate transfer of the patients to AIIMS, Bhubaneswar.