A 20-year-old food-delivery boy saved 10 lives during the massive fire at a Mumbai hospital that killed eight people on Monday.
Sidhu Humanabade was passing by when he saw smoke billowing out from the upper floors of the ESIC Kamgar Hospital in Andheri. He left his bike and asked the firemen if he could join them in the rescue operation.
After a nod from officials, Humanabade reached the fourth floor of the building with the help of fire brigade's ladder and rescued some stranded patients and visitors.
Braving the dense smoke that engulfed the area, Sidhu, who works for online food aggregator Swiggy, managed to bring out 10 people to safety in two hours. However, he himself choked on the smoke and is currently admitted at the nearby Seven Hills Hospital.
Speaking to PTI from his hospital bed, Humanabade said when he heard people crying for help, he could not stop himself. "I joined the firemen in their rescue operation. Thankfully, the firemen allowed me to climb their ladder to reach the fourth floor. I broke the building's glass with an axe and entered the premises."
He then asked the patients to come over to the window ledge and brought them down one by one. "One patient slipped from my hand and fell down, but fortunately she survived."
Humanabade is from Airoli in Navi Mumbai but shifted to Andheri's Marol with his uncle a few days back when he joined the food-delivery firm.
Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment Santosh Gangwar had on Tuesday met the victims admitted to various city hospitals and assured that they would be provided proper treatment.
Humanabade said the minister met him too and enquired about his health. "It was nice to get appreciation from him," the Class-XII pass out said.
A woman also recalled how her presence of mind led her to save herself and her infant daughter.
Reenu Narayan had brought eight-month-old Sonika to the hospital for treatment of pneumonia. "When I saw people crying and screaming all over the place and the smoke spreading fast, I picked up my baby and ran. I was lucky to find a passage to reach out to safety," Narayan said.
Meanwhile, all the rescued patients and visitors were undergoing treatment in seven hospitals across the city and 29 of them were in the intensive care unit (ICU), a civic official said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had on Tuesday ordered a probe into the fire.
The Union Labour Ministry also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the kin of each of the deceased, Rs 2 lakh for victims who received serious injuries and Rs 1 lakh for those who suffered minor injuries.
On Tuesday, the hospital staffers protested against its management and alleged that working conditions and infrastructure at the facility were poor.
"The hospital building doesn't have fire safety installations nor any emergency exits. Its renovation work began 10 years ago and is still on. Doctors and nurses keep falling sick due to the bad working conditions. We want our grievances to be addressed," a staff said.
City-based public health activist Ravi Duggal said the Employee's State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) had a huge cash reserve, which is required to be spent properly on the hospitals run by it.
"The ESIC has reserves worth Rs 50,000 crore. The money is being used to open medical colleges, which is not mandated. It (ESIC) gets a contribution of Rs 16,000 crore every year from its members, but only Rs 7,000 crore is used for healthcare and the remaining is used somewhere else, like investments in corporate bonds," he said.
(With inputs from agencies.)