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'I have seen 5 people die in 24 hours'

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Last updated on: August 12, 2005 01:22 IST

Anwar Malik and Kulbhushan Gupta had nothing common in life except the fact that both were the residents of suburban Bandra in Mumbai.

Soon after the deluge of July 27, fate brought them together—both were admitted to the Bhaba Municipal Hospital in Bandra.

On Thursday morning, Kulbhushan was dead and Anwar was breathing.

Lying in the ICU ward, Anwar says: "I survived the floods on July 26 but I don't know whether I will survive now. My fever is not passing and I am constantly vomiting."

Soon after the water receded in the city after the floods, the fear of an epidemic breaking out has gripped the city. Thirty-seven people have died of high fever so far.

Anwar is worried about his parents back home in New Delhi. There is no way he can inform them about his health.

A tailor, Anwar lives alone in Mumbai and considers himself fortunate to survive the floods in Behrampada, Bandra.

"I was in water for two days and could not come out of my home. I didn't eat anything for two consecutive days. I thought the worse was over but I never knew what awaited me," said Anwar, adding, "I have seen five deaths in this ICU ward in the last 24 hours and I am not sure whether I will be able to survive this time."

There are 15 other patients in the ICU ward fighting for their lives like Anwar and more are getting admitted with the same symptoms- fever and vomiting.

In the last three days, 10 deaths were reported at Bhaba Hospital.

However, the hospital authorities did not confirm the cause of the exact nature of death and said they haven't yet received the post-mortem report.

Many more are being admitted to the ICU, but doctors say that there is not enough space and refuse admission. 

"Many people are scared and are rushing to hospitals even if they have slight fever," says Chief Superintendent Dr Seema Malik. 

"We have instructed many of them to go to city hospitals like Nair and KEM as they are less burdened."

Mohammad Mehmood intervenes when Dr Malik is addressing the media. "Look at my daughter's face. She is just five years old. She is seriously ill. Please admit her or else she will die."

Dr Malik convinces Mehmood that his daughter is not serious and it will be better if he shifts her to Nair Hospital, which is big and had all facilities.

"I don't have a bed in my hospital. Where do I admit her? Please understand the situation," she tells Mehmood who agrees to shift her to Nair Hospital.

Terming the deaths as unfortunate Dr Malik says, "In total, 92 people were admitted to our hospital and 54 have been discharged so far. There have been 10 deaths in our hospital in the last three days. The deaths occurred only because people took their fever and vomiting cases lightly. Those who got admitted in time were cured and sent back."

Rekha Gupta sits in a corner outside the ICU and cannot believe that her husband Kulbhushan is no more.

She did everything to make sure that her husband, a heart patient, would survive.

"I had taken a loan of Rs 8,000 to cure my sick husband. He was recovering well but pneumonia struck him and he is no more," says Rekha to fellow patients who try to console her.

Her daughter Rinku takes a mobile phone from a reporter and calls her aunt, "Aunty, aap jaldi hospital aao. Paapa ___" before she completes her sentence, she burst into tears and the others try to console her.

Two schoolgirls in uniform aged under 12 from Shaheen Urdu School then come out of the lift of the hospital near the ICU ward.

One starts vomiting on the floor and other is not in even able to walk.

They are taken straight to the ICU as doctors make way for them in the commotion.

Suresh Jadhav is another worried man as the hospital authorities are not willing to admit his son inside the ICU because of lack of space.'I

"My son Sachin, 15, has high fever but they are refusing him entry and say that he is not very serious. I hope what they are saying is the truth," says Jadhav.

A casual labourer, Jadhav even tried to get his son admitted to a private hospital but only to find that there are no ICU beds available there.

"I have collected money to admit my son in a private hospital but there are no beds available there too," adds Jadhav.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf