Kolkata: Insufficient and faulty fire-fighting systems, ill-trained hospital staff more interested in saving their own lives - survivors of Kolkata's AMRI Hospital fire on Friday had horrific tales to tell about the tragedy in which over 70 people, mostly patients, were killed.

“The sprinklers and the fire extinguishers were simply not working. We were all asleep when the fire broke out. Nobody bothered to wake us up. I and one of my roommates got up following the chaotic noise,” said Rajib Das, who had undergone an operation on Thursday night.

“I can't remember on which floor I was staying. All I could remember were thick black smoke engulfing the whole floor. There were not enough staff to take the patients to safety. Only one or two nurses were there and they were clueless about the emergency exit,” he said.

Das accused the hospital authorities of not undertaking proper fire fighting facilities.

“They are charging lakhs of rupees from patients, so why are they so lethargic and ignorant towards the safety of the patients? Nobody is getting free treatment here,” he said. Das, along with some of the patients, was saved by firemen in the early morning.

“I am quite a heavy man and I had just undergone a stent operation so I could not come down on a rope unlike other patients. I came down through a fire brigade ladder. I must say that I got a second life on Friday,” he said.

A patient, saved along with Das, lashed out at hospital authorities and nursing staff for leaving them behind to get burnt to death.

“Actually it is a closed place. So when the AC stopped working and the smoke started to spread, I had problem in breathing and that's when I was startled out of sleep and saw what was happening,” said the patient, who didn't want to be named.

“It was Das who found out the emergency exit, but it was locked. I came down through a rope but while coming down, both my palms got scratched due the roughness of the rope,” he said.

He also alleged that the hospital didn't have a proper in-house fire fighting crew to tackle such fire situations. Both Das and the fellow patient have currently been shifted to the main building of the AMRI hospital.

D Paul, whose 12-year-daughter died in the fire, blamed the ignorance and arrogance of the security officials as the reason for his girl's death.

“I was pleading with the security guards to allow some of us inside so that we could take out some patients, including my daughter. But they were adamant in not letting us in. Neither the security guards were going inside nor were we allowed to go inside. They had even locked the gate of the staircase,” said an inconsolable Paul.

(Agencies)