* Many elderly people suffocated to death, official says
* Prime Minister Modi calls the tragedy "mind-numbing" (Updates death toll, adds details)
By Jatindra Dash
BHUBANESHWAR, India, Oct 17 (Reuters) - At least 19 people were killed when a fire broke out at a private hospital in India's eastern state of Odisha on Monday, officials said.
The fire erupted in the dialysis ward of the SUM hospital's critical-care unit in the state capital, Bhubaneswar, public health officials said.
Preliminary information showed the fire started after an electrical short-circuit, media said.
Many of the 19 dead were elderly people who had suffocated to death, C. R. Nayak, the state's director of health services, told Reuters.
Ambulances took more than 120 patients to other hospitals, officials said, while firemen battled to control the flames.
Some of the wounded patients were still in critical condition.
"We are trying our best to save lives," said Arti Ahuja, an official of the state's health and family welfare department.
The tragedy was "mind-numbing", said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who urged the federal health minister to hasten the transfer of injured victims to a nearby government hospital, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
"Deeply anguished by the loss of lives in the hospital fire," Modi said on social network Twitter. (Writing by Aditya Kalra; Additional reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)