Gorakhpur tragedy: PM Modi expressed sadness, says MoS Health

As many as 30 children lost their lives due to encephalitis in last 48 hours at Gorakhpur’s BRD Hospital

Amid the ongoing controversy over the tragic death of more than 60 children in Gorakhpur's Baba Raghav Das Medical College's hospital in a span of six days, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday outrightly blamed the principal, Rajiv Mishra, for laxity in performing his duty.

Health activists said successive governments had ignored the threat posed by encephalitis as it was a disease that affected poor, malnourished children.

The BRD Medical college has a 100-bed Encephalitis ward where children from eastern Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Bihar and Nepal are admitted.

Minister for medical education Ashutosh Tandon ruled out disruption in oxygen supply as the reason behind the deaths. Successive governments have faced criticism for not reforming the overburdened public health system which is still plagued with shortage of doctors and dilapidated infrastructure. He also said that alternative arrangements had been made from neighbouring Sant Kabir Nagar district to ensure availability of liquid oxygen for the hospital.

The state government assured the public of stringent action against those found responsible for the deaths at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital in Gorakhpur, ANI reported.

District magistrate Rajeev Rautela said an inquiry committee has been set up to ascertain the exact cause of the deaths and it has been asked to submit its report by Saturday evening.

The prime minister's office on Twitter said that Modi was "monitoring the situation in Gorakhpur" and was in touch with the state authorities.

Two days ago, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited the paediatric ward of the hospital and also inaugurated the ICU, Critical Care Unit and visited the ward where children infected with Japanese encephalitis virus were being treated.

Rautela said that the hospital owed 6.8 million rupees ($106,000) to the company, but added that it had adequate numbers of oxygen cylinders.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi expressed deep grief over these deaths.

Adityanath said, "The oxygen supply was low for about two hours, but the BRD Medical College had a system that beeped about it and after which the oxygen pressure was pumped manually".

A high-level magisterial probe has been ordered into the incident.

Minister of State for health Anupriya Patel will visit Gorakhpur on Sunday to assess the situation and a panel led by the chief secretary will investigate the oxygen supplier's role, Adityanath said.

Congress leader and former Union Minister R.P.N. Singh said that the incident happened only due to the lapse of the BJP government.

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