April 21 (UPI) -- At least 22 COVID-19 patients on ventilators at a hospital in India died on Wednesday after a leak cut off oxygen for about half an hour, officials said.
Pipes that connected the ventilator system at Dr. Zakir Hussain Municipal Hospital in Maharashtra state to an oxygen tank leaked on Wednesday morning and 22 patients were confirmed dead after it took hospital staff about 35 minutes to fix the leaks, Sajan Sonawane, the officer in charge of the investigation told CBS News.
The hospital was treating more than 100 coronavirus patients and all 22 of those who died on Wednesday were on ventilator life support.
"As per the information available with us, the leakage was spotted at the oxygen tank which was supplying oxygen to these patients," Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope told reporters. "The interrupted supply could be linked to the deaths of the patients in the hospital."
"The tragedy at a hospital in Nashik because of oxygen tank leakage is heart-wrenching. Anguished by the loss of lives due to it. Condolences to the bereaved families in this sad hour," he wrote.
India ranks second in the world with 15.62 million COVID-19 cases and fourth in deaths at 182,553, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University, amid a recent surge in cases and hospitalizations that has placed a strain on supplies of hospital beds, oxygen and vaccines.
The nation reported 294,000 new infections on Wednesday and Maharashtra is one of the states most affected by the wave of infections with more than 4 million cases and more than 60,000 new infections reported daily.
During a televised address Tuesday, Modi called on people to take actions to prevent spreading the virus, but said that lockdowns would be a last resort although states and cities have implemented their own closures.