Man runs from pillar to post to trace brother body

Kolkata: It has been an endless nightmare for Paritosh Das of Agartala who is looking for the body of his 24-year-old brother Santosh, who was declared dead in the AMRI hospital fire.

Standing helplessly in front of the morgue at SSKM Hospital where the autopsy of the victims was being conducted, Das said he had checked the bodies there several times, but could not find his brother.

"My brother was admitted to the male ward on the second floor of AMRI. I checked there, but he is not there. Although he has been declared dead, I was hoping against hope that he would be at some of the hospitals where patients of AMRI have been referred. But he is not there either," he said.

Recalling the chain of events, Das said he was sleeping in the visitors area on the ground floor of the hospital when he woke up to a choking sensation.

"Thick smoke was engulfing the area and my first thought was for my brother. I and some others wanted to rush upstairs to bring the patients down, but were prevented by the security guards who said things were under control and the smoke will clear soon. If they had intervened in time, or had allowed us to do so, maybe we could have saved the patients," Das said.

Das said Santosh was admitted to AMRI on December 1 after he had an accident. "His operation was scheduled on December 7, but we could not arrange the fees by that date. We could organise the money only on the evening of December 7 and so the operation was done the next day".

Police said that only one of the 90 bodies received at the morgue was yet to be identified, while the remaining have been handed over to their families. The bodies handed over include that of 65 year-old Bangladesh resident Gouranga Mondal. His body would be flown to Bangladesh.

A hospital spokesman said that 24 or 25 patients in the hospital`s undamaged old block were still there. "Senior and junior doctors, as well as the nurses, are attending to the patients. The ITU and the wards are functioning properly. Only operations are not being carried out," he said.

He said since the old block did not have heart care or cathlab facilities, patients were being referred to the other AMRI hospitals at Salt Lake and Mukundapur.

"Those who are not willing to be shifted to our Salt Lake or Mukundapur hospitals, are being referred to other hospitals," he said.