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Huge fire kills at least 23 in eastern India hospital

People gather outside the private Sum Hospital after a fire broke out in its intensive care unit, in Bhubaneswar, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, October 17, 2016. (Photos by AP)

Around 23 people have been killed by a fire which broke out in a hospital in eastern India, say local officials.

Some 120 firefighter were dispatched to put out the fire which started in the dialysis ward of the SUM hospital in the Indian city of Bhubaneswar, in Odisha state late on Monday.

"Deeply anguished by the loss of lives in the hospital fire in Odisha. The tragedy is mind-numbing. My thoughts are with bereaved families," India Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a post published on his Twitter account.

According to reports, the majority of victims died from smoke inhalation, and that 20 more people are receiving treatment in neighboring medical facilities.  

Bodies of victims of a fire at the private Sum Hospital are laid out for post-mortem at another hospital in Bhubaneswar, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, October 17, 2016.

After arriving, firefighters and police were forced to break windows and doors to evacuate the hospital. During the massive rescue operation, which was carried out with the aid of staff and volunteers, over 500 people were safely removed from the hospital.

"We suspect the fire occurred due to an electric short circuit in the dialysis ward", said local fire services official Binoy Behera.

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