The loss of life in the fire at the Kolkata hospital is a tragedy that’s difficult to comprehend. According to the information available, most of the people died because toxic fumes travelled through air conditioning ducts up from the basement. About 90 people were killed, most of them inpatients; the final toll is not yet known. While the immediate reasons for this fire are unknown, the incident is yet another warning—and we’ve had so many in India over the years: Get serious about safety.
The comparison with fires in UK hospitals is revealing. Safety protocols, when properly followed, can prevent loss of life. It’s appalling that we should put up with buildings, roads and various other bits and pieces of infrastructure that are death traps because regulations are seen merely as a hindrance—nuisances that can be made to vanish with a bribe. This has to change.