By C.Y. Kwanue and Joaquin Sendolo
Health authorities are yet to disclose the cause of last Tuesday night’s fire disaster that gutted the John F. Kennedy Medical Center’s only drug testing laboratory and its Cholera Unit.
During the incident, doctors, nurses and patients were evacuated to another area by security guards. There were no human casualties reported.
As of late yesterday evening, the Ministry of Health’s Communications Department could not ascertain the cause of the fire, but said they were continuing the investigation into the incident.
Public Affairs Director Sorbor George confirmed to this newspaper that the cholera and NDS departments, along with the country’s only drugs testing laboratory, were lost to the fire.
Mr. George said the laboratory was used by the hospital to test the qualities and usefulness of all medicines entering the country before they were dispatched to health centers across the country.
“The public should be assured of government’s preparedness to supply drugs to all health facilities from other sources, either from outside or from within,” he said.
The fire started at 9 p.m. on Tuesday night and took firefighters more than three hours to put out, a source at the hospital said.
Eyewitnesses said heavy volumes of smoke and fire sent residents on the 20th and 24th Streets looking for help, and many joined neighbors to put out the fire.
Firefighters, including officers of the Liberia National Police and UN firefighting officers, also joined the effort to put out the fire.
Up to yesterday morning, firefighting trucks from the Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS) were still moving to the scene to ensure that everything was under control.
There were also reports that the hospital’s electrical panel boxes and several important documents including patients’ medical records as well as some recently donated medical supplies from partners were also destroyed.