- Over 60 children have died this week at a hospital in Gorakhpur, UP
- Government denies deaths caused due to disruption in oxygen supply
- Parents of a newborn who died have disputed the government's claims
"Oxygen levels were low two days ago too," said Ajay Shukla, the father of Sarika Shukla, who was only 17 days old when she died around 5 pm on August 10 -- two hours before an oxygen shortage started at the pediatrics wing of the Baba Raghav Das Medical College. The hospital said the baby had died of cardio-respiratory failure, meaning a cardiac arrest that led to respiratory failure.
On August 8 too, there was a low oxygen supply situation at the NICU ward and a monitor that they were told was an "Oxygen level monitor", was beeping with the red sign which indicated low oxygen, said Abhineet Kumar Shukla, the child's relative.
The oxygen levels, the family says, dipped on August 10, too, and described the chaotic scenes at the hospital, where many wondered how so many babies were dying. That day, around half-a-dozen babies died between midnight and 6.30 am. Another five died within three-and-a-half hours from 1.30 pm. The family has demanded that if there is any CCTV footage from inside the ward, it be examined and the oxygen monitor be checked.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who visited the hospital this morning along with Union health minister JP Nadda, has said it would be a "heinous act" if the deaths were caused by a disruption in the supply of oxygen. An investigation has already been ordered into the matter.
The government said hospital administration had not released the funds for the oxygen supplier till August 11, even though it had been cleared on August 5. The government has also said no deaths had occurred while the 800-bed hospital was operating without any oxygen supply.
Denying any wrongdoing, suspended Hospital chief Rajeev Misra has blamed red tape for the delay in clearance of payments. He resigned later last night, taking moral responsibility for the deaths.