Eleven Covid-19 patients died at a hospital in Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district on Monday after the supply of medical oxygen was disrupted, reported The Indian Express, citing officials.

The incident took place in the intensive care unit ward of the Sri Venkateswara Ramnarain Ruia Government General Hospital after a tanker carrying oxygen was delayed.

On Monday, District Collector M Hari Narayana said while the 11 patients on oxygen support died, they were able to save many others. Nearly 1,000 coronavirus patients were being treated at the hospital from Tirupati, Chittoor, Nellore and Kadapa.

“There was a five-minute lag in reloading the oxygen cylinder that caused the pressure to drop resulting in the deaths,” Narayana said, reported NDTV. “The oxygen supply was restored within five minutes and everything is now normal. We have connected bulk cylinders and there is no reason to worry. A major disaster was averted because of quick action by medical staff.”

The hospital has a capacity of over 1,100 beds and has over 100 patients in the ICU and 400 on oxygen beds. About 30 doctors were sent to the ICU ward to attend to the patients.

Following the incident, relatives of the deceased patients allegedly broke into the ICU ward and damaged equipment. Nurses and doctors had to flee the ICU ward and returned after the police arrived and took control of the situation, officials said.

Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has condoled the deaths and ordered an inquiry into the incident. Earlier on Monday, Reddy had held a review meeting on the coronavirus situation in the state, including measures to increase oxygen supply.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, at least three patients had died at a hospital in Telangana’s Hyderabad district allegedly due to a two-hour disruption in oxygen supply. However, authorities at the district hospital in the King Koti area denied the allegations, saying that the medical facility has an adequate supply of oxygen.

Oxygen crisis

India’s healthcare infrastructure, which is tackling a surge of Covid-19 cases amid the second wave of the pandemic, has been in shambles as the demand for medical facilities exceeds the supplies.

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

Several patients have died after hospitals have run out of oxygen. On May 4, 13 patients died at the Chengalpattu Government Hospital in Tamil Nadu following an alleged disruption in oxygen supply. On May 2, 24 patients died in Chamarajanagar district hospital in Karnataka allegedly due to lack of oxygen supply. A day earlier, 12 patients, including a doctor, died in Delhi’s Batra Hospital after oxygen ran out for more than an hour at the private facility.

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