Gorakhpur hospital tragedy: Death toll rises to 63

The BRD Medical College at Gorakhpur. Wikimedia Commons

The BRD Medical College at Gorakhpur. Wikimedia Commons

Health activists said successive governments had ignored the threat posed by encephalitis as it was a disease that affected poor, malnourished children.

Gorakhpur District Magistrate Rajeev Rautela confirmed the death of children in the last 48 hours at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College.

The shortage of oxygen led to the encephalitis, which is a sudden onset inflammation of the brain, following which the children died.

Health Minister of the local government Sidharth Nath Singh said in a statement that 60 children have died in the hospital since August 7 due to different diseases but not because of lack of oxygen cylinders. However, he said the principal had told him that for emergency use, alternative arrangements have been made. The letter was written to the hospital authorities on August 3 and 10 informing them about the shortage of oxygen cylinders as Pushpa Sales stopped supply over pending payment.

The children were admitted at the Baba Raghav Das Hospital in Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state.

A statement issued by the state Information Department late evening categorically denied reports shown by "some TV channels as misleading". Also, according to the reports of other sources disruption in the supply of liquid oxygen claimed lives of nine children on Monday, 12 on Tuesday, nine on Wednesday, 23 on Thursday and seven on Friday.

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The Prime Minister in a tweet on Saturday said that he has deputed Minister of State for Health, Anupriya Patel and Union health secretary to take stock of the situation from Gorakhpur.

The hospital, which has become a major center for children with encephalitis, has treated almost 370 cases in the last two months. The company in question - Pushpa Sales - is believed to have cut oxygen supplies past year as well when the outstanding touched almost Rs 50 lakh.

Navika wasn't the only one facing Twitter on the tragic deaths of 30 children in Gorakhpur.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi also expressed his pain and blamed the state's BJP government was responsible for the tragedy. This comes at a time the ruling BJP government is looking to revamp the healthcare system in the state. "Yes, sixty patients have died at the hospital in the last five days but we don't think it's linked to reports of oxygen shortage", Anil Kumar, Gorakhpur's divisional commissioner told AFP.

After digging deeper, it turns out that a total number of 60 deaths have occurred in the past 5 days.

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