THD NewsDesk, Nashik: A severe gas leak in the Dr. Zakir Hussain Hospital in Nashik, Maharashtra led to a pause in oxygen supply which took the life of at least 24 COVID 19 patients on life support.
State Health Minister Rajesh Tope had ordered a high level enquiry to know the causality of this tragedy. According to sources the reason is attributed to a valve malfunction.
Sources said the tragedy unfolded around 10 a.m. when the tank was being refilled after the oxygen level went down. The massive leak caused disruption in the vital oxygen supply for at least half-an-hour. A fire brigade team had to be rushed to the hospital to contain the leak.
Mr Tope added that 67 out of the total 157 patients needed oxygen and were in a very critical condition.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in an address expressed profound grief over the situation and appealed to the people to not indulge in any kind of politics. He added,
“The kin of every patient who died will receive a compensation of ₹5 lakh. I appeal to the people not to indulge in any kind of politics.”
Mr Thackeray asserted that it is very significant to stay careful in this united fight against the pandemic.
“We have been facing the pandemic for more than a year now and the available doctors and medical staff are working day and night to save lives of patients… Such incidents should not happen in the future. The administration will have to work very carefully to prevent any such occurrences that could erode the morale of the health personnel.”
The Chief Minister said he had instructed the Chief Secretary to immediately investigate and to determine responsibility so that hospitals in no other district could report oxygen leaks.
Nashik Collector Suraj Mandhare said the tank belonged to a private vendor. He added
“Apparently, technicians tried to fix the valve when low pressure caused the leakage. This led to the deaths of 22 critical patients who were on ventilator support. My deepest condolences to the kin of the deceased.”
“Currently, the other patients are being supplied oxygen from the repaired tank. They are in a stable condition, as per medical authorities.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed anguish over the incident. He tweeted
“The tragedy at a hospital in Nashik because of oxygen tank leakage is heart-wrenching. Anguished by the loss of lives due to it. Condolences to the bereaved families in this sad hour.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also condoled the deaths of the patients. Mr. Gandhi urged the Maharashtra government to provide all assistance to the affected.
This tragedy has come to highlight the helpless situation of the states and especially in Maharashtra which is the worst affected of all and is facing a severe oxygen crisis.
Indulging more into the political side of it, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Pravin Darekar said that the Nashik civic body authorities were to blame for negligence and demanded a case of culpable homicide be lodged against the NMC Commissioner.
“One cannot pin the blame for this tragedy just on mere technicians. The NMC authorities and the State government is equally to blame for this.”
“There is no question of playing politics here. Devendra Fadnavis (Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly) and myself are available for people 24 hours a day. In this case, it is clearly NMC authorities who are to be blamed for negligence” said Mr Darekar.
BJP State president Chandrakant Patilasserted that this is not the first time that this kind of incident has happened in Maharashtra, he urged the CM to “put its acts together” and ensure that this does not happen a second time.