64 children die 'due to lack of oxygen at Indian hospital'

More than 60 children have died due to lack of oxygen at a hospital in India because suppliers' bills have not been paid, it has been claimed.

Parents were forced to watch the young patients die on the wards at the hospital in Gorakhpur, in Uttar Pradesh, after a disruption to the oxygen supply.

Now Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of the state and a key ally to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, faces calls to resign.

Parents have recounted panic and horror as their children suddenly began gasping for air amid an apparent drop in oxygen, and nurses handed out manual pumps to aid their breathing. 

They claim the company that supplies oxygen to the hospital had earlier threatened to stop distribution unless the government paid its long-overdue bill of 6.8million rupees (£80,000). 

Medical staff attend to a child at the Gorakhpur hospital where parents blame many deaths on oxygen shortages

Medical staff attend to a child at the Gorakhpur hospital where parents blame many deaths on oxygen shortages

An child suffering from Japanese Encephalitis lies on a bed at The Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur

An child suffering from Japanese Encephalitis lies on a bed at The Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur

At least 64 children died over six days at the hospital, with Indian media reporting that 30 deaths on Thursday and Friday were from a lack of oxygen in the children's wards.

Suppliers' bills had allegedly not been paid, leading to a shortage that saw panicked families using artificial manual breathing bags to help their stricken loved ones.

Local officials have conceded there was a disruption to the oxygen supply at the hospital, but insist the deaths were caused by encephalitis and other illnesses, not a lack of available oxygen.

Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest from Modi's conservative nationalist party, vowed to leave no stone unturned as he toured the hospital in his signature saffron robes.

'If the investigation finds any authority guilty of negligence, he will not be spared at any cost,' Adityanath told reporters in Gorakhpur, the city he represented for nearly two decades.

He repeated that the deaths were caused by encephalitis - a mosquito-borne virus that every year ravages poorer, eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh, India's largest state with more than 200 million people.

A father mourns the death of his child outside Baba Raghav Das Hospital in Gorakhpur amid allegations an upaid bill led to a disruption in oxygen supply

A father mourns the death of his child outside Baba Raghav Das Hospital in Gorakhpur amid allegations an upaid bill led to a disruption in oxygen supply

Gorakhpur is the hometown of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, a key ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Gorakhpur is the hometown of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, a key ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Yogi Adityanath walks out after a visit to the Baba Raghav Das Hospital in Gorakhpur, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, on August 13, 2017

Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Yogi Adityanath walks out after a visit to the Baba Raghav Das Hospital in Gorakhpur, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, on August 13, 2017

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