Newborn babies die after fire at Delhi hospital

At least six newborn babies have died following a fire at a hospital in Delhi, according to police.

The blaze broke out late on Saturday evening at a hospital in the Indian capital’s Vivek Vihar region.

There were 12 babies in the unit, senior police officer Surendra Choudhary said. Another had died before the fire began.

Authorities said legal action would be taken against the owner of the hospital, who had fled.

Dramatic pictures on social media show several bursts of fire engulfing the building.

Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the fire was “heartbreaking”.

The causes of the incident are being investigated and whoever is responsible for this negligence will not be spared,” Mr Kejriwal said.

The director of Delhi’s fire department, Atul Garg, told the Press Trust of India news agency that 14 fire trucks had been sent to fight the blaze.

“The fire spread too fast due to a blast in an oxygen cylinder,” he said.

Officials said rescue efforts were slowed by limited access to the building, which has a single staircase and no fire escape.

The hospital is squeezed between residential houses. It is not clear yet whether it followed all safety regulations, nor what initially caused the fire.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on X: “The fire tragedy at a hospital in Delhi is heart-rending.”

Earlier on Saturday, a “massive fire” broke out at a games arcade in Rajkot, in the western state of Gujarat.

At least 27 people perishedin that blaze, local officials said. Many of the victims are believed to be children.

Families of the deceased are awaiting the results of DNA testing before the bodies can be handed over.

Investigators are probing whether sparks from a welding machine ignited the blaze, according to local media.

CCTV footage reportedly showed a welding machine being operated above piles of flammable material, according to The Indian Express newspaper, which cited a government official.

A short circuit was previously believed to have been responsible for the blaze.

Within a matter of hours following the fire breaking out, the two-storey building had been destroyed. When the BBC’s team reached the location, all that was visible was scrap metal and combustible debris.

Authorities continued searching for further bodies in the rubble on Sunday.

Fires are not uncommon in Indian cities as building bylaws are often flouted, residential and commercial areas not clearly segregated and enforcement of safety regulations can be lax.

In 2019, a large fire swept through a bag factory in the capital, killing 43 workers.

BBC NEWS