Twenty-four COVID-19 patients died in Maharashtra's Nashik today after an oxygen tanker leaked outside a hospital, disrupting supply to patients for around 30 minutes.
"As per current information, 24 people have died due to the interrupted supply of oxygen at the Zakir Hussain municipal hospital," district collector Suraj Mandhare told NDTV.
All the victims were on ventilators and in need of constant oxygen supply. Zakir Hussain Hospital is a Covid-dedicated facility. Around 150 patients were either oxygen-dependent or on ventilators.
Visuals showed gas leaking from the tanker outside the hospital and dense white fumes covering the area rapidly.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope promised the government will look into the matter and conduct a thorough probe.
"As per the information available with us, patients who were on ventilators at the hospital in Nashik have died. The leakage was spotted at the oxygen tank which was supplying oxygen to these patients. The interrupted supply could be linked to the deaths of the patients in the hospital," Mr Tope said.
"We will issue a statement later after the investigation is over," he added.
Panic struck patients and their family members as the oxygen supply was stopped. Heart wrenching visuals showed families trying to help the patients as they gasped for breath.
Fire trucks were rushed to the spot to stop the leak. Videos showed water sprayed to control the leak; the firefighting team also wore protective gear.
Around 31 patients out of 80 who need oxygen have been shifted to other hospitals.
#WATCH | An Oxygen tanker leaked while tankers were being filled at Dr Zakir Hussain Hospital in Nashik, Maharashtra. Officials are present at the spot, operation to contain the leak is underway. Details awaited. pic.twitter.com/zsxnJscmBp— ANI (@ANI) April 21, 2021
An official of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's office said that the victims' families will be compensated with Rs 5 lakh each. A high level probe into the matter will be launched, the official added.
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.
State Minister Aaditya Thackeray called the incident unfortunate and promised a probe in the matter.
"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," he tweeted in Marathi.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Majeed Memon tweeted that people responsible for the leak must be punished
"Leakage of Oxygen from tanker in Nasik has caused loss of several litres of oxygen and panic in the Hospital. Those responsible for negligence must be identified and punished," Mr Memon tweeted.