New Delhi: Twelve newborns and as many adults died at a state-run hospital in Maharashtra’s Nanded in 24 hours, the hospital dean said, blaming a shortage of medicines and hospital staff.

Of 24 deaths, 12 adults were suffering from “various ailments, mostly snake bites”, the dean of Nanded’s Shankarrao Chavan Government Hospital said.

“Six males and six female babies died in the last 24 hours. Twelve adults also died due to various ailments, mostly snake bites. We faced some difficulty since various staff were being transferred,” he said.

“We are a tertiary-level care centre and the only such place in the 70 to 80-km radius. So, patients come to us from far-off places. On some days, the number of patients increases and it creates a problem for the budget,” he said.

“There is an institute Haffkine. We are supposed to buy medicines from them but that also didn’t happen. But we did buy medicines locally and provided them to the patients,” the dean added.

Refuting the dean’s claims that there was a shortage of medicine and funds, the hospital, in a press release, said: “Essential medicines are available in the hospital. The hospital has rs 12 crore in funds. For this financial year, ₹ 4 crore has been approved. Other patients are being treated as necessary.”

“There were 12 adult patients (five male and seven female) and 12 children. Among adults, four were suffering from heart disease, one from poisoning, one from gastric disease, two from kidney ailments, one from obstetric complications, and three were accident victims. Among the children, four in the terminal stage were referred from private hospitals,” the statement added.

Calling the deaths “unfortunate”, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde told reporters in Mumbai that more information will be sought about what happened at the hospital and action will be taken.

A committee has been formed to probe the deaths, Dr Dilip Mhaisekar, Director, Medical Education and Research, Maharashtra, told PTI.

“A three-member expert committee from Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar (formerly Aurangabad) district has been formed with a mandate to submit a report by 1 pm tomorrow. I am personally visiting the hospital to review the situation,” he informed.

The Opposition in Maharashtra launched an all-out attack on the Eknath Shinde government in the state, saying the “triple-engine sarkar (of the BJP, Eknath Shinde Sena and the Ajit Pawar faction of NCP) should take responsibility”.

“A total of 24 lives were lost. Seventy are still critical. There is a lack of medical facilities and staff. Many nurses were transferred and their replacements were not given. Many machines are not working. The hospital’s capacity is 500, but 1,200 patients are admitted. I will speak to Ajit Pawar (about this). The government should look into the matter keenly and take control of the situation,” former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Congress veteran Ashok Chavan said after visiting the hospital today.

“The triple-engine sarkar is responsible for the deaths of all the 24 innocent people. They should be made accountable,” Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule said.

“24 deaths, which include 12 newborn babies, in 24 hours in the government hospital in Nanded happened due to lack of supply of medicine by the state government. Shame on a government that only advertises festivals and events,” a spokesperson of Sharad Pawar’s NCP, Vikas Lawande, wrote on X.

This comes less than two months after 18 patients died in 24 hours in August at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital in Kalwa in Thane. Twelve of them were above the age of 50.

The patients were suffering from complications due to kidney stones, chronic paralysis, ulcers, pneumonia, kerosene poisoning, and septicemia among other ailments, Thane civic commissioner Abhijit Bangar had said.

Following the deaths, Authorities shifted patients, who were not in critical and all new admissions, to the Civil Hospital nearby.