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Russian Hospital's Chief Doctor Detained After Deadly Oxygen Malfunction

A vehicle carrying oxygen arrives on August 10 at the Republican Clinical Hospital in Vladikavkaz, where at least nine COVID-19 patients died on August 9 due to a breakdown of the oxygen system.

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia -- Authorities in Russia's North Caucasus region of North Ossetia have detained the chief physician of a hospital where a breakdown of the oxygen supply system left nine COVID-19 patients dead.

Vladimir Pliyev is accused of failing to enforce “security regulations,” the Investigative Committee said in a statement on August 10, adding that a court will decide on possible pretrial restriction measures.

On August 9, nine patients died in Pliyev's hospital in North Ossetia’s capital, Vladikavkaz, after an oxygen pipe burst underground, cutting supply to an intensive care ward.

"Work to repair the main [oxygen] supply line has been completed. The work of the entire system is now being tested," the region’s acting Health Minister Soslan Tebiyev told reporters on August 11.

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 lung 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.

As of August 11, Russian authorities have registered more than 6,512,000 coronavirus cases.

With over 167,000 deaths from the virus, Russia has the highest official COVID-19 toll in Europe -- even as authorities have been accused of downplaying the severity of the country's outbreak.

With reporting by TASS