35 children die in hospital in 3 days
Parents of at least 35 children who have died in a state-run hospital in northern India over the past three days have alleged that the fatalities were due to the lack of a sufficient oxygen supply in the children's ward.
District Magistrate Rajiv Rautela said yesterday that the deaths of the children being treated for different ailments at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur city in Uttar Pradesh state were due to natural causes. He denied that an insufficient oxygen supply led to their deaths.
Parents said that the oxygen supply to the ward ran out last Thursday night and that patients' families were given self-inflating bags to help the children breathe.
"That's the time when the deaths of the children peaked," said Mritunjaya Singh, whose 7-month-old son was admitted to the hospital and was not among the dead.
The Uttar Pradesh government has ordered an investigation.
Prashant Trivedi, the state's top health official, acknowledged that there was a problem in the pipeline supplying oxygen.
"But the situation was managed through oxygen cylinders," Trivedi said. "The hospital administration has enough supply of cylinders in its stock, so the report about death of children because of oxygen issue is false."