Fire guts part of Mangochi Hospital

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Fierce fire gutted part of Mangochi District Hospital, completely destroying the integrated under-five ward, Sunday morning.

The cause of the fire, according to Mangochi District Health Officer Henry Chibowa Junior, is not known.

Chibowa said the hospital is in the process of assessing the situation, in terms of how to manage patients who were evacuated immediately after the fire started at around 11am.

No injuries and deaths in relation to the fire have been reported.

On average, the hospital admits about 250 patients on daily basis. It is not known how the hospital will handle some of the patients who were critically ill by the time the fire started.

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“We have kept some of the patients at one of the eastern wings of the hospital. But most of the patents who could walk managed to flee when the fire started. We don’t know where they are at the moment. So, we will have a picture once we trace them,” Chibowa said.

Going around the hospital, some patients could be seen sleeping under trees as guardians were taking care of them.

In the absence of fire-fighting vehicles and personnel, credit should go to members of the community who braved the heat to fight the fire. They used soil, water and stones which they threw at the burning building.

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Some used fire extinguishers of their vehicles but this did not help matters due to impact of the fire.

In a desperate move, some men climbed to the roof, separating iron sheets as well as removing to safely solar panels which were on the roof.

A sense of frustration was clear on the faces of some of the members, who questioned the absence of trained fire fighters.

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“Our country is a shame. How can we not have firefighting machines in strategic places to deal with situations like these,” said one of the rescuers.

As hospital staff removed some property, police also did a commendable job, in terms of securing the hospital’s property from people who might have wanted to take advantage of the situation to steal equipment.

By midday, the fire had been restricted to the burning ward after the people had disconnected power and other things which could have linked it to other parts of the hospital.

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