At least 22 COVID-19 patients died in a hospital in India on Wednesday as they lost oxygen due to a leak, an official said.
The incident occurred at the Zakir Hussain Hospital in Nashik, a city in the worst-affected western state of Maharashtra, when an oxygen tanker was refilling a storage tank.
Suraj Mandhare, a senior government official, told reporters that an investigation is underway to find out how the accident happened.
The medical facility is said to be a dedicated COVID-19 hospital where hundreds of patients were on ventilators.
Amid an exponential surge in daily coronavirus infections – over 200,000 since April 15 – hospitals across the country are struggling to keep oxygen supply. There has also been a shortage of beds and treatment drugs such as remdesivir.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the incident "heart-wrenching." "...anguished by the loss of lives due to it. Condolences to the bereaved families in this sad hour," he said on Twitter.
Rahul Gandhi, head of the opposition Indian National Congress party who tested positive on Tuesday, said the deaths are "extremely tragic." "My heartfelt condolences to the aggrieved families. I appeal to State Govt and party workers to provide all possible assistance," he tweeted.
With a record 295,041 new cases and 2,023 related deaths in the last 24 hours, India's total caseload has risen to 15.6 million, the second-highest globally, and 182,553 fatalities.