Fire on Sunday gutted Mangochi district hospital, completely destroying the female and pediatric wards and some patients are missing believed to have run away during the inferno.
People around the hospital and the police managed to put the fire down as Mangochi District Council has no fire- fighting equipment.
The volunteer amateur fire fighters and the police managed to put the fire down just before it got to the pharmacy and drug storage room which could have been a disaster.
Hospital personnel and others rushed to the wards to take out critically ill patients to other rooms just before the fire got fierce.
District health officer Dr. Henry Chibowa refused to give details on the fire, saying the hospital was yet to take stock of what had been destroyed and what had caused the fire.
“The bad news is that the entire OPD block is gone but the good news is that the pharmacy and the rest of the facility’s blocks are safe,” explained Chibowa, visibly in shock, adding, “The pharmacy is right next to the OPD and if the fire had spread to the building, most of the blocks and wards would have been affected as most of the drugs are highly flammable.
He however confirmed that some patients were missing but said they might have run away when the fire started.
“These are patients who were feeling much better and managed to run for their lives on their own. We are tracking them down, we will find them,” said Dr. Chibowa.
“We had premature babies in incubators and they have all been taken away apparently by their mothers,” explained Chibowa.
However, he could not say how many patients are unaccounted for.
However, he added that some patients, including those who were in labour ward had been evacuated to the new maternity wing at the old district hospital which he said would also become the OPD for the district hospital at the mean time.
The council does not even have a fire fighting vehicle, making fire fighting exercise in the district a nightmare.
An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.
Meanwhile, a desperate pregnant woman who had fled the hospital in labour was spotted lying by the road near the Mangochi National Bank Branch about to deliver.
Well wishers stopped a vehicle passing by and she was rushed back to the safer part of the hospital where she was quickly taken into a room to deliver.
Some patients on drips could be spotted within the hospital campus with guardians holding the drips for them while some patients held them on their own.
The fire took over an hour to die down as well wishers – mostly from Mangochi Main Market – and the police toiled with buckets and hose pipes to put the flames out.
As some tried to fight the fire from spreading to the rest of the OPD block, a great number of them concentrated much on stopping it from spreading to the pharmacy which is separated to the OPD barely by one metre.
Furniture and other items were saved from the razed OPD block and the police sealed all outlets to stop looters from taking advantage of the situation.
“We are taking care of all the items that have been saved from the burning block and we are ferrying them to the station for safety,” explained Mangochi Police Station Public Relations Officer, Inspector Rodrick Maida who was present at the scene.
He also confirmed that no casualties had been recorded so far adding that the police would work hand in hand with the hospital to search for the whereabouts of the other patients who had fled the hospital on their own.
The extent of the damage in monetary value is yet to be established.—Additional reporting by Kondwani Magombo, Mana & photos by Mana.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :