Twenty four patients died on Sunday in Chamarajanagar district hospital in Karnataka allegedly due to lack of oxygen supply, News18 reported. This comes as hospitals across India are battling a devastating second wave of the coronavirus, with families scrambling for medicines and oxygen.

Twelve of those who died in the last 24 hours were coronavirus patients, according to The Deccan Herald. However, officials told PTI that 23 patients were suffering from the infection.

However, Deputy Commissioner of Chamarajanagar MR Ravi told the newspaper that all the deaths were not due to oxygen scarcity. “From Sunday till Monday morning, a total of 24 people have died,” he said. “We can’t say whether all have died due to lack of oxygen.”

According to News18, all the patients who died were on oxygen support.

District in-charge Minister Suresh Kumar said that they were waiting for a death audit report, ANI reported. Indian Administrative Service officer Shivayogi Kalasada has been asked to conduct an inquiry into the matter and submit a report within three days.

“Strict action will be taken against those who are responsible for the shortage of oxygen supply to the hospital,” Kumar said.

Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has spoken to Chamarajanagar district collector and called for an emergency Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The Congress demanded the resignation of the Karnataka health minister after the incident.

“Died or killed,” party leader Rahul Gandhi asked on Twitter. “My heartfelt condolences to their families. How much more suffering before the ‘system’ wakes up?”

Congress General Secretary Randeep Surjewala also hit out at the Karnataka government for the death of patients. “This is murder by designed negligence of Yediyurappa government,” he said. “Health minister must resign. “Will Chief Minister Yediyurappa ji own moral responsibility for the deaths?”

Oxygen crisis

Shortages of medical oxygen have been reported from several states as daily Covid-19 infections have soared since the start of April.

On Sunday, at least three hospitals in Delhi sent out desperate pleas for oxygen as their stocks of the life-saving gas dwindled amid the raging coronavirus pandemic. On Saturday, 12 patients, including a doctor, died in the city’s Batra Hospital after oxygen ran out for more than an hour at the private facility. This was the third such incident within a week’s time.

At a hearing, the Delhi High Court took note of the deaths at Batra Hospital and told Centre to make arrangements for the allocated supply of oxygen to be given to the national Capital. “Enough is enough,” the court had said. “Water has gone above the head. You have to arrange everything now.”

Subhas Yadav, superintendent of Anand Hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut, had on Thursday blamed the oxygen crisis for the death of three coronavirus patients at the facility in the past 24 hours, The Telegraph reported. Meanwhile, Vinay Sharma, superintendent of Tender Palm Hospital in Lucknow’s Gomti Nagar neighbourhood, told reporters he was standing at the gate of an oxygen refilling centre because his patients urgently needed the life-saving gas.

On April 24, at least 20 coronavirus patients in Delhi died after the Jaipur Golden Hospital ran out of oxygen. A day earlier, 25 “sickest” coronavirus patients died overnight at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the city amid a last-minute scramble for oxygen.