I deeply regret that a fire broke out in the tailor's shop at this hospital at 6.40 a.m. on Friday, 29th November. The fire brigade arrived promptly and by 7.31 a.m. the fire was under control. At about 9.50 a.m., while officers of the fire brigade and members of the hospital staff were inspecting the damage to ascertain the cause of the fire, the central tower collapsed, killing six people, including three fire brigade officers, a male nurse, the hospital printer, and a Polish patient, and injuring 15 others. The injured, none of whom were patients, are progressing satisfactorily. As a precaution some 340 patients have been moved, 132 to other hospitals.
The inquest will open on Wednesday. 4th December, and the Regional Hospital Board is arranging for an immediate investigation into the cause of the accident.
I would like to express my deepest sympathy with the relatives of those killed and injured in this tragic occurrence and my deep appreciation of the courage and devotion of all members of the hospital staff, the fire service, the Civil Defence teams and others engaged in the work of rescue.
While thanking my right hon. and learned Friend, and totally agreeing with him in the last part of his statement, may I most earnestly ask him to look into the cause of this accident in an effort to prevent anything like it occurring in any other place? Nobody apparently knows why it occurred.
My hon. Friend will realise that there will be a full and careful inquiry into the causes of this accident and that it would not be appropriate for me to say more about it at this moment.
I would express the sympathy of hon. Members on this side of the House with those who are injured and with the relatives of those who lost their lives. I would particularly pay a tribute to the bravery and courage of the firemen and patients, and those who helped to rescue the people who were injured.