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At least 30 children died in the state-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur, the parliamentary constituency of Uttar Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in the last two days, an official said Friday. The government however said that only seven had died and a probe has been ordered.
Gorakhpur DM Rajeev Rautela told local TV channels confirming the "death of 30 kids in the last two days" and seven deaths in the last 24 hours.
He said that 17 children had died in the neo-natal ward, five in the ward meant of patients suffering from acute encephalitis syndrome and eight in the general ward.
Denying that the children had died due to lack of oxygen, he confirmed that there was shortage of liquid oxygen at the medical college and that due to non-payment of Rs 70 lakh, the vendor supplying oxygen has stopped supply. However, he said the principal had told him that for emergency use, alternative arrangements have been made.
He further said that part payment of Rs 35 lakh has been made to the vendor and that he had been requested not to disrupt the oxygen supply.
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government denied media reports that more than 30 children had died at the hospital due to lack of oxygen.
A statement issued by the state Information Department termed reports shown by "some TV channels as misleading" and that the District Magistrate was personally stationed at the medical college to keep a vigil on the situation emanating out of the death of seven patients on Friday due to "different medical reasons".
The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday night ordered a magisterial probe. The probe will be finished in 24 hours and a detailed report submitted, said Chief Secretary Rajeev Kumar, who also put the number of deaths at seven. He also ruled out the oxygen shortage being responsible.
State Health Minister Siddarth Nath Singh told TV channels that "a lot of people come suffering from high fever and if they don't get treatment, it may result in death".
To a query if an inquiry will be ordered, he said: "Absolutely, we will do into the depth of these deaths.. we are going to check each and everything and then come with a final answer.. those who who found guilty and if we find any error on their part, they will be made accountable.."
Informed sources told IANS that senior health officials were monitoring the situation and admitted that the state government had been left red-faced because of the deaths took place in the Chief Minister's hometown. Adityanath had been in Gorakhpur just two days back and held a review meeting of healthcare, among other things.
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Meanwhile, parents and attendants of patients, mostly children at the ward number 100 - the encephalitis ward at the BRD medical college - remained resigned to fate and medical negligence.
The father of an infant from Padrauna told media persons that there was acute shortage of oxygen and accused authorities of lying to the media. "I am ready to hear the worst about my child," he said amid flowing tears.
Another distraught father, Deep Chandra from Basti district also aired similar sentiments and said that for the last 48 hours, there was no oxygen supply and the children admitted here were left to die despite prayers and requests to the officials of the medical college.
Dozens of children admitted here are battling for life and in absence of proper treatment, medicines and oxygen, they have lost hope, said many others.