Thirty patients, including 25 children, mostly new born, died allegedly owing to shortage of oxygen at BRD Medical College Hospital in Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur town, the Lok Sabha constituency of chief minister Yogi Adityanath, about 275 kilometres from here.

According to the sources, the victims included ten children, who were admitted to the neonatal ward, and a similar number of children admitted to the Encephalitis ward in the hospital. The deaths had taken place in the past 36-hours, sources said.

Gorakhpur district magistrate Rajiv Routela confirmed 30 deaths in the past 48-hours but denied that they had taken place owing to lack of oxygen. Amgisterial probe has been ordered into the matter.

Sources said that the hospital had been facing shortage of oxygen after the company that supplied the cylinders stopped supplying them following alleged non-payment of its bills amounting to around rs. 70 lakh. 

The company had threatened to stop supply the oxygen cylinders if the bills were not paid immediately. A panicky hospital administration reportedly made a part payment on Friday morning and the supply resumed thereafter but by then the damage had been done. 

A hospital official admitted that some children had died owing to the shortage of oxygen but he refused to specify the number of deaths. ''Some children...mostly new born have died in the hospital owing to various reasons, including lack of oxygen,'' he said. 

Eye witnesses said that chaos prevailed at the encephalitis and neonatal ward since Thursday night after the hospital ran out of oxygen cylinders. The hospital administration made some alternative arrangements but the supply came to a complete halt around midnight.

They said that around ten children had died on Thursday while ten others breathed their last on Friday.

Cries of wails of the grieving parents pierced the corridors of the BRD Medical College, which was the only centre for treatment of encephalitis in the entire Gorakhpur division. It catered to patients from the districts of Basti, Kushinagar, Deoria, Siddharth Nagar, Maharajganj, the bordering districts of Bihar and even from Nepal.

Sources said that as many as 100 children had died from encephalitis in the hospital since the beginning of this year. Around 200 children were still undergoing treatment there.

Ironically Adityanath had visited the hospital on Wednesday to have a first hand assessment of the arrangements there.

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