22 COVID patients in Maharashtra dead after tanker leakage stalls oxygen supply

The incident occurred at Zakir Hussain Hospital, a dedicated COVID facility with around 150 patients who were either oxygen-dependent or on ventilators.

Visuals from the hospital show gas rapidly leaking and covering the area

At least 22 COVID-19 patients on ventilators died after an oxygen tanker parked outside a hospital in Nashik, Maharashtra, developed a leak, causing supply to be halted, reports said on Wednesday.

The incident occurred at Zakir Hussain Hospital, a dedicated COVID facility with around 150 patients who were either oxygen-dependent or on ventilators. A cork in the tanker malfunctioned, which led to a reduction in pressure in the pipeline that delivers oxygen to the wards, the reports said. “The oxygen pressure for patients on an invasive ventilator and in intensive care unit reduced,” collector Suraj Mandhare said while confirming the toll.

Visuals from the hospital show gas rapidly leaking and covering the area in white fumes, causing panic among people. Fire trucks were soon dispatched to the hospital to stop the leak.

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Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ordered an investigation into the incident. He also announced a compensation of ₹5 lakh each to the kins of the dead. “The Nashik gas leak incident will be thoroughly investigated. It is shocking and painful,” he said.

“Those responsible for this accident will not be spared. But no one should politicise this unfortunate incident. This is an attack on Maharashtra. Maharashtra is mourning the Nashik traged,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the tragedy “heart-wrenching”.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah expressed his grief. “I am distressed to hear the news of the accident of oxygen leak in a hospital in Nashik,” he tweeted in Hindi. “I express my deepest condolences on this irreparable loss of those who have lost their loved ones in this accident. I pray to God for the efficiency of all the other patients.”

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted his condolences.

BJP leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis called it a “painful news” and said “truth will come out”.

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