The probe panel looking into the fatal fire that broke out at Dhaka's United Hospital has found that the hospital lacked proper fire safety measures.
Five people were killed on Wednesday after the fire burned down the tent-like isolation unit outside the main building of the private facility in Gulshan.
There were no firefighters, fire drill or a fire team to deal with the disaster, a member of the panel said, adding only three of the 11 fire extinguishers at the wing had not expired.
The fire had quickly engulfed the structure as the materials used for its construction and the hand sanitizers kept inside were highly flammable, the police said.
Three units of the Fire Service and Civil Defence tamed the flames within half an hour, but not before the four-room structure was completely burned down. The dead included four men and a woman.
They were identified as Md Mahbub, 50, Md Monir Hossain, 75, Vernon Anthony Paul, 74, Khodaja Begum, 70, and Riaz Ul Alam, 45.
Among them, three had tested positive for the novel coronavirus while the results of the two others returned negative, according to Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Deputy Commissioner Sudip Kumar Chakraborty.
The authorities could not immediately ascertain the cause of the fire, but after speaking to relatives of the patients, they suspect that it may have been caused by a spark in an air conditioner, added Sudip.
Debashish Vardhan, deputy director of the Fire Service and Civil Defence, is heading the four-member panel investigating the incident.
After visiting the scene on Thursday, Debashish told bdnews24.com the hospital had an officer in charge of firefighting but he was at home when the disaster struck.
DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam also criticised the hospital's lack of fire safety protocol after visiting the scene on Thursday.
"People come to the hospital seeking recovery from their sickness but here they died in a fire," said the mayor.
“This is really unfortunate. I would request the authorities of all hospitals to attach the necessary important to fire safety.”