The opposition DMK has alleged that 18 patients have died at a hospital in flood-affected Chennai because authorities “snapped” power supply, while officials have said the deaths occurred after floods took out generators running life-support systems.
Eighteen patients, who were in the intensive care unit of the MIOT International hospital, died on Friday after flooding of the generator room cut off power supply to the ventilators.
“Eighteen people have died at MIOT hospital due to lack of electricity supply,” DMK chief Karunanidhi said on Saturday. “Should not the government have exempted places like hospitals?”
Health secretary J Radhakrishnan has said the generators ceased functioning due to inundation and that the hospital had no standby generators.
Authorities are investigating whether negligence caused the tragedy. Grid power supply to the area was withdrawn due to heavy rains and resultant floods.
Karunanidhi accused the government secretary of “trying to escape by saying that 14 persons died due to several diseases over the past few days and that their bodies were lying in the morgue”.
Blaming the government for power cuts, the DMK chief asked, “What would the residents living in fifth or sixth floors do if power supply was stopped for three-four days.”
He also faulted the government for the severe drinking water shortage in flood-hit areas, and asked: “Did the state arrange drinking water?”
The government has, meanwhile, shifted focus to preventing a possible outbreak of epidemics in the coming days.
Sanitation workers have begun spraying insecticide in many places to prevent the spread of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue due to the stagnant water collected in large parts of the city.
In many areas, sewage drains have overflowed, posing a health hazard for residents who have had to wade through the water.
A government release said that around 200 more special medical camps became operational on Saturday, apart from the 216 already functioning. Earlier, 92 mobile medical teams were deployed across the city to tend to the needy.
Nearly 450 have people died so far in the torrential rain that has been lashing the state over several days. Thousands are homeless.