Between Thursday and Friday, 30 children died in a government-run hospital in Gorakhpur, the constituency that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath represented for nearly 20 years in Parliament.
On Thursday morning, hospital employees who handle the storage plant at the hospital from where oxygen is piped to different wards, wrote a letter (accessed by NDTV) to the Chief Medical Officer informing him that the stock of liquid oxygen was dangerously low and would not last the night.
The operators pleaded with the authorities to act urgently and save the lives of the patients. This was their second letter; the first sent a week earlier had remained unanswered.
After the body count started rising alarmingly and the local media began gathering outside the medical college by Thursday night demanding answers, Rajeev Rautela, the District Magistrate of Gorakhpur, addressed reporters.
He claimed that the deaths of the 30 children, 17 in the neo-natal ward, 5 in AES ward and 8 in the general ward were due medical reasons and not linked to the availability of liquid oxygen. Although he accepted that its supply had been stopped over unpaid bills, Mr Rautela insisted that the hospital had more than 50 oxygen cylinders in stock to cope with any crisis and was in the process of getting upto another 150.
It was as recently as Wednesday that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the head of the Gorakhnath temple and five-time MP from here, had reviewed conditions at the hospital. He is believed to have inspected the paediatric ward, visited children infected with the encephalitis virus and inaugurated a new intensive and critical care unit.
The government has promised a swift investigation, harsh punishment of those found guilty; the opposition is demanding the resignation of Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh as well as the Chief Minister. In a region where encephalitis, for all its dangers, is treated as a recurring annual feature by those in charge , with few signs of urgent care to basic health facilities, the odds were against the families of the children who are lost.