MUMBAI: The tank from which liquid oxygen leaked at a civic-run hospital in Nashik, killing 22 COVID-19 patients, was operationalized just 21 days before the incident, an official said on Thursday.
The incident occurred on Wednesday afternoon when the patients, who were either on ventilator or oxygen support, suffocated to death after their oxygen supply stopped suddenly because of a malfunction in the main storage at Dr Zakir Hussain Hospital in Maharashtra's Nashik city.
The police registered an FIR on Thursday against unidentified persons under Indian Penal Code Section 304-A (causing death by negligence) following a complaint by a senior inspector of Bhadrakali police station, Nashik Police Commissioner Deepak Pandey said.
"The oxygen tank, having a storage capacity of 13 KL, was operationalized on March 31," another police official said quoting information provided by the hospital's superintendent.
White fumes engulfed the area after the leakage, said the official who was present at the spot.
He said the police also got to know that the oxygen tank belonged to (Vadodara-based) Inoxcva company and was taken on rent for 10 years from Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation (a Japanese company which supplies industrial gases like oxygen and nitrogen to a wide range of industries).
Patients were being provided oxygen from the round white-colored tank, installed in the hospital premises, via a pipeline, he said.
According to the official, the leakage occurred when oxygen was being filled into the tank from a tanker.
He said the oxygen leakage started around 12.20 pm.
An employee managing the tanker present at the spot and the hospital administration staff tried to stop the leakage.
Later, the hospital administration called an engineer who rectified the malfunctioning and the leakage was stopped between 1.45 pm and 2 pm, the official said.
"The patients died due to disruption of the oxygen supply following leakage from the tank," he said.
It happened because of "negligence and carelessness" on part of some people who were yet to be identified, he said.
Accordingly, an FIR has been registered against unidentified persons, the official said.