Published: Sun, August 13, 2017
World News | By Carolyn Briggs

Congress delegation visits BRD Medical College, leaders demand resignation of Health Minister

Congress delegation visits BRD Medical College, leaders demand resignation of Health Minister

In a shocking incident, 30 children, many of them newborns, have died in the last 48 hours at Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur city.

However, before leaving for Gorakhpur, state health minister Siddharth Nath Singh today reiterated that no child died due to a shortage of oxygen. While 30 died in two days (August 10 and 11), allegedly due to lack of oxygen following non-supply of cylinders by the contractor for non-payment of dues, 12 died due to AES (acute encephalitis syndrome) and the remaining due to other causes, the hospital said.

Gorakhpur District Magistrate Rajiv Rautela has also given a breakup of the casualties.

The opposition Congress Party's Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter: "Deeply pained".

State health minister Siddharthnath Singh, too, dismissed reports.

The deaths are being blamed on infections and possible disruption of oxygen supply in the paediatrics ward but the hospital and district administration have rejected oxygen shortage as a reason. The deaths occurred due to suffocation as fire and smoke engulfed most wards in the hospital, as over 100 patients were being treated at the Intensive Care Unit.

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The chief minister also briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the initiatives taken by his government following the tragedy. But according to a news agency report, a Union Home Ministry statement that quoted the Gorakhpur police superintendent said 21 children died because of shortage of oxygen.

"Our heart goes out to the families of all those young children, who have perished due to sheer negligence or who have died due to sheer negligence", Congress leader Manish Tewari told ANI.

According to the government, 60 deaths have taken place in the hospital during past five days. The hospital was housing 160 people when fire erupted in the basement of the hospital at about 3 am on December 9, 2011.

Stating that the exact toll was not available with the opposition, Yadav said, "We have received information that as the children were dying, their families were being taken out of the hospital in a hush hush manner". "The BRD Medical College is the biggest in Purvanchal, and six-seven deaths a day are normal during the peak encephalitis season, when the casualty rates are normally high".

"The government is responsible for the deaths of these children", he said.

The hospital is the largest in the entire Gorakhpur region, and hundreds of patients from nearby towns and villages flock to it for treatment.

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