25 newborn babies evacuated in mysterious Durban hospital fire

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A fire broke out on the 7th floor of Durban's Addington Hospital. (Supplied)
A fire broke out on the 7th floor of Durban's Addington Hospital. (Supplied)

A total of 84 people, including 25 newborn babies and their mothers, had to be evacuated from Durban's Addington Hospital on Tuesday morning, the Department of Health said.

Hospital management said that a fire broke out in on the 7th floor in the fire escape area, just after 08:00.

Nurses immediately alerted security personnel, who began trying to douse the blaze with fire extinguishers.

"By then, strong clouds of smoke had begun spreading to the hospital's wards on the 9th and 13th floors," Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said.

She said that, while firefighters from eThekwini Municipality were enroute to the hospital, management implemented the facility's emergency evacuation plan.

"No fewer than 25 mothers and their newborn babies; nine children in the children's ward on the 13th floor; and 20 patients who needed gynecological services, had to be evacuated due to the strong smoke."

Probe into cause of fire

There were no injuries during the incident with the eThekwini Fire Services investigating the cause of the fire.

"We would like to thank our security personnel, hospital staff and management, as well as eThekwini Fire and Emergency services for the manner in which they responded to this emergency. We are grateful for their collective efforts in saving lives, and that damage to property is minimal," said Simelane-Zulu.

She said the department would follow-up on the progress of investigation.

"If there is any evidence of foul play, the law will have to take its course."

The MEC acknowledged that there was a major issue regarding the functioning of the lifts at the hospital and said this was being dealt with by the department.

"This morning's fire took place near a lift that is used for refuse removal, which was not operational at the time, and was due for repairs. Regrettably, the lift has now suffered more damage due to the seepage of water during the fire extinguishing process."

She said plans to repair the lift would be "shelved until the level of water damage has been fully ascertained".  

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