Sixty children have died at a hospital in India’s northern state of
Uttar Pradesh this week, prompting local media to blame the fatalities
on a lack of oxygen supplies.

The BRD Medical College specified that 34 were babies who died at the
neo-natal intensive care unit, while 12 died because of encephalitis.
The rest died of other unspecified causes.

Local media reports have said some of the deaths were caused due to an
oxygen shortage after a private supplier withdrew its equipment over
unpaid hospital dues.

BRD Medical Chief Medical Superintendent Dr R.S. Shukla denied the
deaths had been caused by a lack of oxygen supplies when asked by

The hospital, in a statement, said there had been a “drop in pressure in
the supply of liquid oxygen” on Thursday, but added cylinders were
procured from various other suppliers. It did not specify whether that
had resulted in any deaths.

The breakdown of the death toll provided by the hospital showed a spike
on Thursday, with 23 fatalities, including 14 babies at its neo-natal

The Uttar Pradesh and federal governments are investigating the matter,
officials said. A tweet from the Prime Minister’s office said Narendra
Modi was constantly moniINMng the situation.

The deaths have sparked a political firestorm as opposition politicians
sought to pin the blame on Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which rules
the state.

The hospital is located in Gorakhpur district, which is represented by
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who was appointed to head
the state this year.

“The current government is responsible for the deaths of children in
Gorakhpur due to the lack of oxygen. Strict action should be taken,”
tweeted former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.

State government officials in TV appearances however chastised opposition leaders for seeking to politicize the issue.


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