No casualties have been recorded as the wards and the theatre are not directly attached to the OPD block, the hospital officials and the police have confirmed.
The fire broke out at around 10:25AM immediately after Escom restored power which had been off in most parts of the areas around the Boma, including at the health facility.
Mangochi District Health Officer (DHO), Henry Chibowa, told Mana that in the absence of power the facility had switched on to a power generator set until the time Escom restored power, which was the exact moment the fire broke out.
“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.”
However, Chibowa worried over the whereabouts of some patients who had evacuated on their own fearing for their lives thinking the fire would spread to their wards.
“Meanwhile we don’t know where some of the patients are. We had premature babies in incubators and they have all been taken away apparently by their mothers,” explained Chibowa.
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.
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.