Indian prime minister offers victims money after blaze kills 88

Updated 10:18 AM EST, Sat December 10, 2011

Story highlights

Police say at least 88 are killed and 60 injured

Authorities find safety violations in the basement

Six hospital managers are arrested, accused of negligence

(CNN) —  

Investigators have arrested six hospital managers after a fire that killed at least 88 people in a hospital Friday in eastern India.

The six worked at a five-story hospital in the city of Kolkata, said Javed Ahmed Khan, the West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services minister.

They were arrested for negligence, Khan said.

A “majority” of the bed-ridden patients were abandoned by most of the staff on duty, he said.

Video of the scene showed crowds of people wearing face masks rushing patients out onto the street in stretchers.

One child, apparently unconscious, was lowered by a rope from a higher floor of the hospital by rescuers.

A mass of people stood outside the hospital talking on cell phones and holding each other. Some who were trapped inside had broken windows to let the smoke out, and the hospital remained hot and smoky, CNN-IBN reported.

A doctor and two attendants were among the dead, Khan said. The other victims were all patients. Kolkata police said 60 more were injured.

The blaze started in the hospital’s basement, said D.P. Biswas, adjutant director-general of the fire department in the area.

The victims died of smoke inhalation, Biswas said.

Authorities were trying to determine what caused the fire, which started at 4 a.m.

A preliminary investigation showed that the hospital had safety violations in the basement, Khan said.

Authorities found that the basement was being used as a place to park cars and house medical supplies, as well as the location for an oncology department, Khan said.

“This was a violation” of the safety norms, he said.

Khan said the hospital’s license was revoked.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered money to the victims affected, including 200,000 rupees (US $3,854 ) to relatives of the deceased and 50,000 rupees (US $964) to those seriously injured.

CNN’s Jack Maddox contributed to this report.