Mumbai: Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Friday stoked a fresh controversy when he said that the fire incident at Covid-19 centre in Virar, wherein 13 people were charred to death, is ‘not national news’. Earlier in the day, at least 13 patients including 5 women, perished in a major fire that broke out in Vijay Vallabh hospital in Virar in Palghar district of Maharashtra.Also Read - World Menstrual Hygiene Day: Maharashtra to Launch Scheme to Provide 10 Sanitary Napkins For Re 1

Speaking to reporters, the minister asserted that fire, structural and electrical audits will be conducted of the private hospital and a report will be submitted within 10 days. Also Read - 'Viagra At Discounted Rates': How Fake Call Centre In Maharashtra Scammed US Nationals

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Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray spoke to the district authorities on learning about the fire incident. Taking serious note,  Thackeray ordered a probe into the tragedy and announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of all decreased, besides Rs 100,000 to all the seriously injured.

Notably, this is the second major Covid season tragedy coming two days after an oxygen gas leak in a Nashik Municipal Corporation hospital on Wednesday claimed 29 lives so far.

Speaking to PTI, District Disaster Control Cell chief Vivekanand Kadam said that the Virar hospital fire was preceded by an explosion in the AC unit of the intensive care unit. Relatives of the deceased reached the hospital soon after hearing of the incident and demanded that stringent action be taken against those responsible for the tragedy

Earlier this year, ten infants were killed in a fire that broke out at a special newborn care unit of the Bhandara district hospital in Maharashtra on January 9. Seventeen infants, aged one to three months, were admitted to the ward at the time of the tragedy

A fire also broke out in Mumbai’s Dreams Mall, which housed a Covid-designated hospital on its third floor, in the intervening night of March 25-26. The fire, which raged for over 40 hours, claimed nine lives, including those of patients on ventilator support.