At least 30 children died in the state-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur during last 48 hours, district magistrate Rajeev Rautela said on Friday.
Though he gave no reason for the deaths, the Union home ministry said according to the SP of Gorakhpur, 21 children died due to shortage of supply of liquid oxygen.
"As per SP Gorakhpur, 21 children died due to shortage of supply of liquid oxygen in BRD Medical College, in last 36 hours. Senior officers are on the spot. Exact cause is being verified by civil administration," a home ministry spokesperson said.
The incident sparked major outrage all over the country with opposition parties like the Samajwadi Party and the Congress seeking the resignation of the state health minister.
Rautela said 17 children died in the neo-natal ward, 5 in AES (acute encephalitis syndrome) ward and 8 in the general ward over the last two days. He said seven deaths (neo-natal ward 3, AES ward 2 and general ward 2) were reported since last midnight, while the remaining 23 deaths (neo-natal 14, AES 3 and general 6) were reported since midnight of 9-10 August.
The state government, in an official release in Lucknow, also rubbished reports about non-availability of oxygen at the hospital.
Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh said, "The deaths of children were very unfortunate and government will set up an inquiry committee to ascertain if any lapse have been there and if anyone is found guilty he will be made accountable."
Citing a break-up of casualties since 7 August till date, he said according to reports from the paediatric department of the college, 60 children have died due to various diseases during the period. Singh asserted that the deaths were not because of paucity of oxygen.
The district magistrate said alternative arrangements had been made from nearby nursing homes since last night and from neighbouring Sant Kabir Nagar district to ensure availability of liquid oxygen for the hospital.