Oxygen shortage causes deaths of more than 60 children at public hospital in India: 6 things to know

Police in New Delhi said at least 30 children died at a public hospital several hundred miles east of the city between Thursday and Friday morning due to a shortage of liquid oxygen, The New York Times reports.

Here are six things to know about the incident.

1. Government officials said the Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh-based hospital, Baba Raghav Das Medical College, owed between $50,000 and $90,000 to a supplier of liquid oxygen, according to various reports. The medical supply company said the hospital violated the terms of its contract by incurring a bill of at least $15,000. The contract expired July 31 and the medical supplier "disrupted" deliveries of liquid oxygen to the hospital Aug. 4, according to documents provided by the medical supply company to The Washington Post.

2. Officials said the hospital maintained a backup supply of oxygen, but did not explain how at least 30 children died at the facility between Aug. 10 and Aug. 11, The New York Times reported. The children were diagnosed with encephalitis, a mosquito-born illness that causes inflammation of the brain.

3. Indian health officials said the hospital received additional oxygen supplies Aug. 14. By that time, at least 60 children died of encephalitis at the hospital, Reuters reports.

4. The state's health administrators and hospital officials reportedly denied charges the children's deaths were linked to the oxygen shortage. A state official allegedly blamed unsanitary conditions and the spread of encephalitis, which is easily spread during monsoon season, The Washington Post reports.

"We now have adequate supplies of oxygen cylinders, there was a shortage last week … but I am not in a position to say whether they were the cause behind the deaths," a senior medical official at the hospital told Reuters.

5. In response to the public backlash surrounding the incident, the Uttar Pradesh government reportedly fired Dr. Rajeev Misra, the head of the hospital, and the physician in charge of the hospital's pediatric care unit, according to Reuters. However, Dr. Misra told reporters he had "repeatedly written to the state administration to release funds to pay suppliers," Reuters reports.

6. Hospital officials said they are conducting an investigation into the shortage of oxygen cylinders, according to The New York Times.

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