The situation started unravelling at the district hospital around 8pm Sunday when oxygen stocks started to wear thin and supplies did not reach the town from Mysuru. Breathless patients called their relatives who scrambled to assist them, but with little success.
When district deputy commissioner MR Ravi rushed to the hospital by 10.30pm, their oxygen saturation levels had plummeted to dangerous levels. Though by 2.30am, the supply was restored, it had claimed many lives. “The stock is expected to last for the next two days,’’ official sources said. Kin of the dead between 25 and 50 years gathered near the hospital and protested, alleging negligence by the hospital.
Not all deaths due to lack of oxygen , say Karnataka ministers
While one of the victims is a treasury department official, the rest are farmers and most had been admitted to the hospital a few days ago.
Education minister Suresh Kumar and health minister K Sudhakar rushed to the town to take stock of the situation. “The cylinders were supposed to come from Mysuru but there was some glitch,” Kumar said. He added that he got complaints that the supply got delayed due to the intervention of Mysuru deputy commissioner Rohini Sindhuri and would take up the issue once he got a report. He admitted there was lack of coordination between the two district administrations on sharing of oxygen cylinders. Sindhuri issued a press release denying the charge and clarified she had sent cylinders to Chamarajanagar on humanitarian grounds following a request. Suresh Kumar and Sudhakar claimed that all those who died in Chamarajanagar may not have died due to oxygen shortage.
Chief minister BS Yediyurappa ordered a probe into the deaths and asked senior IAS officer Shivayogi Kalasad to submit the report within three days. He called an emergency cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss the issue. Chamarajanagar district incharge minister Suresh Kumar sought the audit of 24 deaths.