The district magistrate of Kanpur, Surendra Singh, on Friday ordered an investigation into the death of five elderly patients in the intensive care unit of a state-run hospital in the city in the past two days, The Times of India reported. The patients’ relatives alleged that they died because the air conditioner had stopped working, a charge refuted by the administration at the Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital.

“There were problems in the AC plant yesterday,” said Navneet Kumar, the principal of the Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Medical College to which the hospital is affiliated. “The ICU has serious patients but none died due to AC failure.” Kumar said that technicians had been asked to rectify the problem in the AC plant at the earliest, and an investigation has been set up.

Saurav Agarwal, the doctor in charge of the ICU, also admitted that there were problems with the air conditioning system. “Superintending in-charge of LLR Hospital, chief medical superintendent, power department officials and the agency concerned were informed and the problem was rectified,” PTI quoted him as saying. “But the compressor again got burnt yesterday. Although it was hot inside, life-saving machines such as ventilators and monitors were not affected and were working properly. Only the AC became defective.”

The hospital staff tried to provide relief to the patients by opening the ICU’s windows and doors but it was not much help because of heat wave in the region. They used hand-held fans to provide some respite to the patients.

In August, 63 children died in a hospital in Gorakhpur allegedly because of shortage of oxygen supply. A month later, lack of oxygen caused the deaths of 49 children at a hospital in Farrukhabad.