RIO de Janeiro: A fire raced through a hospital in Rio de Janeiro, forcing staff to wheel patients into the streets on stretchers or in wheelchairs and killing at least 11 people, many of them elderly.
Four firefighters were hospitalized after battling the overnight blaze at Badim Hospital and about 90 patients were transferred to other hospitals, the fire department said.
A rope made from bedsheets and used in an attempt to escape the fire still hung from an upper floor window of the hospital Friday.
Most victims died of asphyxiation as smoke filled the wards, and some died when life support equipment stopped working in the fire, said Gabriela Graça, director of the state Institute of Forensic Medicine.
Carlos Outerelo was visiting his sick mother when the fire started Thursday night. The 90-year-old woman, Berta Gonçalves Berreiros Sousa, was among the dead.
“They said to stay closed off in the rooms so the smoke couldn’t get in, and that it was under control. But in reality, it wasn’t under control,” Outerelo said outside the morgue where his mother’s body was taken.
“The smoke started coming from the air conditioning ducts and it turned black and became hard to see,” he said. “It was horrible.”