India

Calcutta hospital fire: Two more officials arrested

Firefighters work to extinguish the fire at the Calcutta hospital on 9 Dec 2011
Image caption The fire started in the basement of the hospital

Police in the Indian city of Calcutta have arrested two more officials of a private hospital which caught fire last Friday, killing 90 people.

Vice-president Satyabrata Upadhyay and senior general manager Sanjib Pal of AMRI Hospital were arrested on Tuesday.

Seven officials of the hospital were arrested and charged with culpable homicide over the weekend.

The fire began in a basement and swept through the building. Officials say the hospital flouted safety regulations.

Those already charged include the co-founders of the hospital SK Todi and RS Goenka.

Objections

Police said Mr Upadhyay had given a written assurance to the fire service that the basement would be cleared by 6 December, the BBC's Amitabha Bhattasali reports from Calcutta.

The fire authorities had raised objections that the basement car parking area was being used as a warehouse where highly inflammable materials were stored, our correspondent adds.

The fire began in the basement and spread through the six-storey hospital. Most of the dead were patients.

Police say there was a delay on part of the hospital to inform the fire services about the fire.

Interrogations have revealed that on an earlier occasion, an employee had been hauled up as he had called the fire service to douse a smaller fire in the hospital.

Since then, employees were asked to first report to the senior authorities before calling police or fire services during an emergency.

Survivors of Friday's fire have also said that they noticed the smoke at least 90 minutes before the fire services arrived at the hospital, considered one of Calcutta's most prestigious.

The charges have been denied by hospital authorities.

The government has ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident and cancelled the licence of the hospital.

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