At least 22 dead after oxygen tanker leaks at hospital in India
At least 22 COVID-19 patients have died after an oxygen tanker leak outside a hospital in India.
At least 22 COVID-19 patients have died after an oxygen tanker leak outside a hospital in India, local media reports.
Video published by local media appears to show clouds of oxygen blasting from the tank outside Zakir Hussain Hospital in Nashik, a city in the western state of Maharashtra.
"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.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the interrupted supply was the cause of death.
"The leakage was spotted at the oxygen tank which was supplying oxygen to these patients," Mr Tope said.
About 150 patients in the hospital were either oxygen-dependent or on ventilators, NDTV reported.
The major incident comes as India grapples with a surging second wave of coronavirus.
Healthcare services across the country are close to collapse, unable to keep up with the relentless speed of the spread.
India reported 295,041 cases of coronavirus and 2023 deaths on Wednesday, its highest rise in cases and highest death increase recorded in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health.
"The volume is humongous," said Jalil Parkar, a senior pulmonary consultant at the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai, which had to convert its lobby into an additional COVIDward.
"It's just like a tsunami."
"Things are out of control," said Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in New Delhi.
"There's no oxygen. A hospital bed is hard to find. It's impossible to get a test. You have to wait over a week. And pretty much every system that could break down in the healthcare system has broken down," he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Tuesday, acknowledging the country's "very big battle" against COVID-19.
He appealed to states to "use a lockdown as their last option," even as the capital, New Delhi, entered its first full day of a week-long lockdown.
On Monday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned failing to halt movement in the city could lead to "tragedy."
"We don't want to take Delhi to a place where patients are lying in hospital corridors and people are dying on roads," Kejriwal said.
On Tuesday, he warned some Delhi hospitals were "left with just a few hours of oxygen," as authorities scrambled to convert sports complexes, banquet halls, hotels and schools into much-needed treatment centres, with the goal to add 6000 additional beds within days.
"Our healthcare system has reached its limit. It is now in a state of distress. It has not collapsed yet but it is in distress," Kejriwal said.
"Every healthcare system has its limits. No system can accommodate unlimited patients."
With shortages being reported across the country, local and state leaders appealed to the federal government for more oxygen and medicine.
Modi appeared to answer those calls on Tuesday, announcing plans for the delivery of 100,000 cylinders of oxygen nationwide, new oxygen production plants, and hospitals dedicated to COVID-19 patients.
But experts fear it's too little, too late, as positive patients compete for limited resources and mass gatherings threaten to spread the virus even further.
- Reported with CNN