Brazil: At least 10 dead in Rio de Janeiro hospital blaze – fire service

Medical staff evacuating a patient from the Badim hospital in Rio de Janeiro

RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 14 (NNN-AGENCIES) — At least 10 people died in a
fire inside a hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Thursday evening with
rescuers desperately trying to evacuate scores of patients from the building,
the fire service said.

The fire broke out at dusk at the Badim hospital in the north of the city,
with first reports suggesting the cause was a short circuit in a generator in
the oldest part of the complex.

“At least 10 people died,” the Rio de Janeiro fire department said in a
statement, without specifying whether the victims were patients or workers.

“About 90 patients had to be transferred to other medical units.”

The blaze was brought under control by 8 pm, and fire fighters
searched until the early hours of Friday to recover bodies from the scene.

During the emergency evacuation, dozens of trolly beds and stretchers were taken into the surrounding streets as ambulances struggled to get through crowds of curious onlookers to rush the most vulnerable patients to other hospitals.

Dense black smoke poured out of one side of the hospital, a private
facility in the Tijuca neighborhood, as doctors, nurses and volunteers ran
inside to rescue patients.

While hospital authorities pointed to a generator fault in the oldest part of the complex as the probable cause of the fire, Rio mayor Marcelo Crivella said he could not rule out sabotage.

“Experts will have to find whether anyone was responsible. I hope I am wrong, but we have to check there was no sabotage, we have to investigate,” he told reporters.

Rio has been hit by two major fires in the past year, including when the National Museum was gutted by flames last September, destroying most of its priceless collections.

In February, 10 teenage members of the Flamengo football club were killed in the prefabricated building where they were staying.

Faulty air conditioning systems were the cause of both fires. — NNN-AGENCIES