FIRE at Indian asylum kills 25 mentally ill patients who were chained to beds

Monday, August 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MADRAS, India (AP) _ Twenty-five mentally ill patients chained to their beds were burned to death when a fire broke out in their asylum in southern Indian early Monday, police said.

Five other patients were seriously injured in the fire at Syed Moideen Asylum in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Caretakers at the facility in the town of Erwady, 400 miles south of the state capital Madras, initially ignored the patients' cries, believing they were just the routine screams of the mentally ill, police said. Inmates in the asylum are usually chained to their beds, police said.

``We have recovered 25 dead bodies. They could not be identified as they were charred beyond recognition,'' said A. Ravindranath, the chief of state police.

The asylum had 46 inmates at the time of the fire. Of the dead, 11 were women and 14 were men, Ravindranath said. Five others were hospitalized with extensive burns, and 16 did not suffer any injury, he said.

Investigators had not yet determined the cause of the fire.

There are 15 mental asylums in Erwady. Eight patients died of a waterborne disease at one of them in February, prompting a government inquiry into conditions. A report has been completed, but the government has yet to take any action.