Nashik: 22 Covid patients suffocated to death after oxygen supply cut from leakage

Kolkata, India: At least 22 COVID-19 patients died of suffocation after an oxygen taker leaked in a Maharashtra hospital, causing 30 minutes pause in the vital gas supply that took the somber number of lives. 

Visuals from the scene show white fumes of oxygen blurring the area as the tanker. Around 31 of the 80 patients who need oxygen have been transferred to other hospitals.

"As per current information, 22 people have died due to the interrupted supply of oxygen at the Zakir Hussain municipal hospital," district collector Suraj Mandhare told NDTV.

All of the victims were on ventilators and needed a steady supply of oxygen according to the report. Zakir Hussain Hospital is a Covid-exclusive facility. About 150 patients were either oxygen-dependent or ventilator-dependent.

Rajesh Tope, the Health Minister of Maharashtra, has vowed that the government will look into the matter and conduct a thorough investigation.

"According to the details we have, patients on ventilators at the Nashik hospital have died," he was quoted as saying. 

The leak was discovered in the oxygen tank, which supplied oxygen to these patients. The interruption in supply may be attributed to the deaths of the hospital patients, Mr. Tope said.

"We will issue a statement later after the investigation is over," he added.

The gas had spread across the neighborhood, sparking panic. Fire engines were called to the scene to put a stop to the leak.

Water was sprayed to contain the leak, and the firefighting team wore protective suits to go in to avoid the leak.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's office said that the victims' families will be compensated with ₹ 5 lakh ex-gratia each.

"The accident at Zakir Hussain Hospital is extremely unfortunate. We all share in the grief of all these families. Guardian Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and all the officials are in touch with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. This unfortunate incident will be thoroughly investigated," the CM tweeted in Marathi.

A high-level inquiry into the matter will be launched, the official told NDTV. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims.

"The tragedy at a hospital in Nashik because of oxygen tank leakage is heart-wrenching. Anguished by the loss of lives due to it. Condolences to the bereaved families in this sad hour," he tweeted.

Stern action

We want stern action against the perpetrators, Amol Vyavhare, whose grandmother was one of the patients who died due to a lack of oxygen, told BBC Marathi.

Vicky Jadhav, whose grandmother was also among those killed, said she was "doing well" when he left the hospital to get her dinner.

That's when I got the message that she'd gone serious. When I asked hospital officials, they said there was no oxygen left in the hospital.

This story has been updated with testimonies, more info.

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