Mumbai hospital blaze: Elderly couple drag themselves out, get hospital bed after 4 hrs

“I can never forget the horror of last night. I had to drag my husband like some dead animal through a dark corridor,” said Madhuri Godhwani (67), who survived the fire mishap at Mumbai’s Sunrise hospital on Friday. For Madhuri and Chetan Godhwani (78), their escape was followed by four gruelling hours to get a hospital bed in the middle of the night.

The couple, both Covid-19 positive, were admitted to Sunrise hospital at 6 pm on Thursday, and were in a private room. At 11 pm, Madhuri saw smoke entering the room. Chetan was on oxygen support and too weak to move. “I called for help… A ward boy asked me to run and pointed in one direction and left. I kept crying out for help for my husband,” she said.

She knew her husband could not walk and smoke was enveloping their room fast, so she dragged him through the dark corridor. “I found a young woman who was helping two elderly people escape, so I dragged my husband and followed them. The lift was working on backup power, I think. We took the lift till the first floor and then came down the stairway,” she said.

When the couple reached the road, there was chaos. “While rushing out, my husband’s saline tube snapped and his hand started bleeding. I called my son and we waited for him to come,” she said.

When their son Lalit reached the hospital, he saw his father’s hand bleeding and mother crying on the road. “No ambulance was available. I called a private ambulance which charged us Rs 8,000. We tried multiple hospitals, but they said they had no beds… Finally, by 4 am, we reached Viraj hospital in Thane,” Godhwani said.

The family paid Rs 1 lakh in advance to Sunrise hospital. “We have no money left. I have requested my company to pay my salary in advance. Sunrise has not reached out to us nor responded to our calls,” Lalit said.

An official from Viraj hospital said the couple were brought in an ambulance by their family.

Dr Hafeez Rehman, CEO in Sunrise hospital, said their staff managed to save as many lives as possible by gathering people at the assembly point or refuge area from where evacuation was easy. “The entire fire system is in place at our hospital. There is no violation in fire safety norms,” he claimed.