At least 22 covid-19 patients died Wednesday at a hospital in India after an oxygen tank ruptured, leaving critically ill patients gasping for breath.

A technical fault in a valve of the hospital’s oxygen tank caused the leak, said Suraj Mandhare, a senior district official in Nashik, the city in western India where the deaths took place.

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The hospital had more than 150 covid patients, nearly all of whom were receiving oxygen support, Chhagan Bhujbal, a minister in the state government, told reporters.

Fifteen patients were on ventilators, the most intensive form of oxygen support, and 11 of them died in the accident, Bhujbal said. Local officials said the death toll in the incident could rise.

The accident comes as India confronts a devastating second wave in the pandemic that has pushed daily cases and deaths to record highs. Hospitals in several states have been overwhelmed with patients, and demand for oxygen has soared.

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