Oxygen tank leak in Nashik hospital kills 24, CM Uddhav orders high-level inquiry

A cork in the oxygen tank had malfunctioned which led to a reduction in pressure in the oxygen pipeline that goes straight into Covid wards.

At least 24 patients died at the government-run Dr Zakir Husain hospital in Maharashtra’s Nashik district after oxygen supply was affected due to a leakage in the main storage tank. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident and also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the kins of the deceased.

Zakir Hussain Hospital is a dedicated Covid hospital with over 150 patients admitted. It took an hour for technicians to plug the leakage. A cork in the oxygen tank had malfunctioned which led to a reduction in pressure in the oxygen pipeline that goes straight into Covid wards.

“The oxygen pressure for patients on an invasive ventilator and in intensive care unit reduced. The hospital has informed us that 22 patients died,” said collector Suraj Mandhare. He further said the supply has now been restored and patients are again getting oxygen through the pipeline.

District officials said when the cork malfunctioned, oxygen started leaking in huge quantities from the tank and spread through the compound creating a white cloud of gas. Technicians and fire brigade were immediately called to repair the tank. “By that time a lot of oxygen was wasted. The hospital tried to divert cylinders towards patients but ICU patients on high flow oxygen could not be saved,” a district official said.

State Health minister Rajesh Tope said, “So that this kind of episode does not repeat, we will prepare an SOP on management of oxygen plants and storage tankers. Oxygen is a precious commodity and we cannot afford to waste it. We will investigate what happened in Nashik Hospital.”

CM Thackeray said the incident is “shocking and painful” and will be thoroughly investigated. “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 over the Nashik tragedy,” he said.

Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant demanded a probe into the incident. “We demand inquiry into the tragedy at Nasik’s Zakir Hussain Hospital. Anyone who is responsible must be brought to book. Hospital is managed by Nasik corporation which is under @BJP4Maharashtra rule. BJP must take responsibility. Where are Mayor & 3 BJP local MLAs? Absconding?” he tweeted.

Sawant alleged that the Nashik corporation, under which the hospital functions, is run by the BJP. However, BJP leader Kirit Somaiya said during his visit to Nashik on March 22 he had warned the municipal commissioner and civil surgeon about the infrastructure in the hospital.

Senior BJP leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “Very disturbing & painful news from Nashik of many deaths due to oxygenleak. My deepest condolences to families who lost loved ones. Priority should be given to assist&shift patients. Truth will come out after enquiry but immediate steps needed to avoid such incidences in future.”

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