Some Gasped for Breath, Others Awaited Discharge: Kin Fight Tears, Seek Answers Over Nashik Tragedy

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Family members struggled to fight their tears as well as anger as they mourned the death of their kin following the disruption of oxygen supply at the Zakir Husain municipal hospital in Nashik. As many as 24 COVID-19 patients who died in the tragedy were recovering and about to get discharged, their relatives said.

As the news of disruption of oxygen supply due to leakage in storage tank spread, family members rushed to the ward where COVID-19 patients on ventilator were undergoing treatment. There were heart-wrenching scenes as patients' condition became critical and doctors and nurses could not do anything in the absence of oxygen supply, a witness said.

The brother of 42-year-old Pramod Walukar could not stop his tears. "He was about to get discharged in the next two days as his condition was improving. Today when I brought him tiffin, he said he would eat later. Immediately after our conversation, the hospital ran out of oxygen and within two hours my brother was dead," he said. The relative of another victim said the hospital management was callous and must be held responsible.

A woman, whose mother Leela Shelar (60) died during the incident, said had her mother received good treatment, she would have survived. Another woman, who also lost her mother, said her condition was improving. "But the oxygen supply got disrupted and she died gasping for breath," she said, sobbing.

"My grandmother died before my eyes… The hospital management is responsible for this," said a man. A relative claimed that there was no oxygen supply for almost two hours and had the hospital stocked some oxygen cylinders, lives could have been saved.

A woman said her mother could not get a hospital bed for two days, and when it became available, she lost her life for lack of oxygen. As angry and weeping relatives demanded answers, hospital authorities had to ask the police to restrict the entry into the COVID-19 ward.

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