In what is described as the worst fire tragedy in any hospital in India, 78 patients and three staffers were killed, mostly suffocating to death, in poisonous thick smoke in Kolkata's well- known AMRI private hospital, said the reports.
"The victims mostly got suffocated from the fumes," Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim told the media.
The fire which broke out at dawn from a basement trapped 160 patients, including 50 critically ill, in the seven-storied air- conditioned building.
Throughout the day, patients, some dead and others barely alive, were brought out by fire fighters, while desperate relatives blamed the state and hospital administration for slowness in the rescue operation, said the Indo-Asian News Service.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed grief and announced compensation of 200,000 rupees (4,000 U.S. dollars) each to the families of those killed.