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MOHW hospital fire caused by short circuit in ward: fire department

2018/08/13 17:39:45

CNA file photo

Taipei, Aug. 13 (CNA) A short circuit in a wire connected to a mattress in a long-term care ward at the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) Taipei Hospital is believed to be the cause of a deadly fire at the hospital early Monday morning, according to an initial investigation by New Taipei Fire Department.

The short circuit occurred on bed 235, ward 7A23 of the hospital, causing a fire that resulted in nine fatalities and 16 injured.

The fire department said Monday its investigation is ongoing.

The fire department attributed the high death toll to three factors; first, mattresses in the ward were flammable, which caused the fire to spread quickly.

Second, hospital staff did not close the doors in the ward where the fire broke out when evacuating patients and other personnel. As a result, the fire spread to other areas of the seventh floor.

Third, hospital staff did not call the fire department until nine minutes after the fire broke out, the fire department said, adding that it will investigate why the fire was not immediately reported.

However, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元) said staff had been preoccupied trying to save the lives of seriously-ill patients by moving them to safer parts of the hospital.

On separate occasions, Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德), Hsueh Jui-yuan and the hospital's Deputy Superintendent Lin San-chi (林三齊), apologized to patients, their families and the public for the fire.

An order has been issued for fire prevention measures at hospitals across Taiwan to be upgraded so as to prevent any recurrence, said Premier Lai.

(By Chen Wei-ting, Wang Yang-yu, Sunrise Huang, Liang Pei-chi,
Chang Ming-hsuan and Hsu Hsiao-ling)