Nine coronavirus patients have died in a Russian hospital in the southern city of Vladikavkaz after an oxygen pipe burst underground, cutting supply to an intensive-care ward, Russian news agencies report.
"Nine patients with coronavirus died due to a lack of oxygen," the TASS news agency said on August 9, citing the local Health Ministry.
"A total of 71 people were in intensive care, not all were [receiving] oxygen supply," TASS quoted the ministry as saying.
Regional authorities have agreed with the Defense Ministry to supply oxygen to all of the city's hospitals from the town of Mozdok, some 80 kilometers north of Vladikavkaz, RIA Novosti reported.
"There was a burst in the oxygen pipe from the reservoir, which is underground, and the oxygen supply was stopped," the acting head of the North Ossetia region, where Vladikavkaz is located, was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.
"Medical staff has started to connect the patients who are on ventilators to oxygen tanks. Oxygen tanks have started to arrive," Sergei Menyailo said.
Russia has seen a number of accidents in its coronavirus hospitals lead to the deaths of patients during the pandemic.
In June, three people died in a fire at a hospital in the Russian city of Ryazan, southeast of Moscow, with a faulty ventilator believed to be the cause of the blaze.
Several people also died in May 2020 in fires at hospitals in Moscow and St. Petersburg, with faulty ventilators likewise believed to have sparked the blazes.
Russia is the world's fourth-worst-hit country in terms of coronavirus cases, with nearly 6.5 million registered, according to an AFP tally.
With 165,650 deaths from the virus, Russia has the highest official COVID-19 toll in Europe -- even as the authorities have been accused of downplaying the severity of the country's outbreak.