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Oxygen looted in India as supplies run low

As India fights a brutal second wave of COVID-19, the fight for oxygen is turning nasty.

Desperate relatives stole oxygen cylinders from a hospital storeroom to keep by their family’s bedside.

The staff at a hospital in central Madhya Pradesh said they’d stop working if security wasn’t amped up.

A surgeon said some of the relatives attacked staff, and when the staff tried to reason with them they were threatened.

At this hospital they say there’s no shortage of oxygen, but people are anxious as it’s a different picture elsewhere.

Battling breathlessness, bureaucracy, and a lack of beds; patients are being turned away by hospitals and it's costing lives.

At least 22 patients died at a public hospital in India's western Maharashtra state when their oxygen supply ran out.

Police officials say it was after a leak in the tank.

India is now the epicenter of this global crisis, recording more than 200,000 new COVID-19 cases daily for the last seven days.

That’s the world's steepest rise this month, and there’s no sign yet that the second wave of infections is going to peak soon, with many major cities going into lockdown.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged state governments to only use lockdowns as the last resort, promising he is taking rapid action to increase oxygen supplies.

Modi faces criticism that his administration lowered its guard when coronavirus infections fell, allowing religious festivals and political rallies that he himself addressed to go ahead.

In the capital, authorities say Delhi hospitals would start running out of medical oxygen by Wednesday.

Major government hospitals in the city of 20 million people had between eight and 24 hours worth of oxygen, while some private ones had enough for just four to five hours, according to Delhi's deputy chief minister.

Over the last 24 hours India reported more than 2,000 deaths from COVID-19, as crematoriums tried to keep up.