Dec. 9 - A fire in a Kolkata hospital kills at least 73 people, mostly patients. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) A fire swept through a seven-storey hospital in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata on Friday, killing at least 73 people, most of them patients, a senior hospital official said. The flames were brought under control by late morning and rescue workers had begun to retrieve the bodies from the building, including at least two children, a Reuters witness said. Television showed patients being rolled out on stretchers and distraught relatives waiting outside the hospital as a thick layer of smoke engulfed the building. At least 73 people died, all but three of them patients, the hospital's vice-president, S. Upadhay, told reporters. He said 90 patients were safely evacuated. Authorities believe the fire started in the basement, where flammable materials such as oxygen cylinders were stored. Two dozen fire trucks were sent to douse the blaze and evacuate the building, but thick smoke hindered rescue operations, officials said. The building was such that neither ladders nor fire brigades could get through, so rescue operations were delayed and in that time the smoke had risen to higher levels, Firhad Hakim, the state's Urban Development Minister, told reporters.