Another doctor said a nurse first noticed smoke coming out from the neonatal section of the hospital and alerted doctors and other staff who reached there in five minutes.
Fire brigade personnel rescued seven babies from the 'inbound ward' of the unit but could not save the 10 other babies. The cause of the fire in the four storeyed building is not known but could have been the result of an electrical short circuit, he said.
CM Uddhav Thackeray ordered an inquiry into the fire.State Health Minister Rajesh Tope announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of children who died in the fire.
As per a statement issued by the Chief Minister's office, Thackeray expressed deep sorrow over the death of infants who died in the fire at the Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) of the hospital.
Earlier in the day, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi condoled the death of newborn babies and appealed to the state government to provide all possible assistance to the families of the deceased and the injured. PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh also condoled the loss of young lives in the fire. "Heart-wrenching tragedy in Bhandara, Maharashtra, where we have lost precious young lives. My thoughts are with all the bereaved families. I hope the injured recover as early as possible," Prime Minister tweeted.
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