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Andhra police trace ‘missing’ oxygen tanker, escort it to Vijayawada hospital just in time to refill tanks

The tanker, which was returning from Odisha after refilling, had gone off the radar on Thursday night after its on-board tracking system was switched off and its driver was not receiving calls.

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad |
Updated: May 7, 2021 2:47:37 pm
Policemen escort the oxygen tanker to Government General Hospital in Vijayawada on Friday. (Express Photo)

Andhra Pradesh Police on Friday located the oxygen tanker that had gone “missing” while returning from Odisha after refilling, saving the lives of nearly 400 Covid-19 patients at the Government General Hospital in Vijayawada which would have suffered from a shortage in supply if the tanker wouldn’t have made it in time to fill the oxygen tanks of the facility.

The 18-tonne tanker had gone off the radar on Thursday night after its on-board tracking system was switched off and its driver was not receiving calls. Within a few minutes, Vijayawada Police Commissioner B Srinivasulu alerted all senior officers, including the district superintendents of police.

A police team in East Godavari district finally located the tanker outside an eatery in Dharmavaram. Circle Inspector of Prathipadu, Y Rambabu, told The Indian Express that he had received an urgent call from EG SP Adnan Nayeem Asmi at around 2 am.

The oxygen tanker refilling the tanks of Government General Hospital in Vijayawada on Friday. (Express Photo)

“He said that they have tracked down the driver based upon the cell tower location. It was important that the tanker reached Vijayawada hospital by 6 am or else lives of critical patients could be at risk. We found the tanker outside a ‘dhaba’ in Dharmavaram at around 2.30 am. The driver had gone off to sleep as he was extremely tired. He told us that he had been driving for long hours since several days to deliver oxygen and was fatigued. As he was feeling drowsy, he stopped and fell asleep. However, without losing any more time, we set the tanker rolling and sent an experienced police driver along with him. Police in all jurisdictions created a green corridor till the hospital,” Rambabu added.

The tanker made the 250-km-long journey from Dharmavaram to Vijayawada without any stops and reached the hospital at 7 am.

Andhra Pradesh, which has been witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases, requires around 500 metric tonnes of oxygen daily.

During a review meeting held by Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, officials had said that the requirement of oxygen in the state is expected to reach 1,000 metric ton by May 15. The CM has requested the Centre for tankers to transport 200 metric ton of oxygen per day from Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu and another 200 metric ton from Bellary in Karnataka and from Odisha. On Thursday, the state reported 21,954 new cases, taking the cumulative tally to 1,82,329.

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