Six hospitals in the Indian capital Delhi have completely run out of oxygen and doctors say other hospitals have just a few hours’ worth of supply left.
A number of people have died while waiting for oxygen, and more than 99% of all intensive care beds are full.
India is in the grips of a second wave of Covid infections and on Thursday recorded the highest one-day tally of new cases anywhere in the world.
The country has recorded close to 16 million confirmed infections.
There have been 314,835 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, while deaths rose by 2,104.
There have been reports of state authorities stopping oxygen tankers from travelling to other states, according to Delhi television station NDTV. Some facilities have been accused of hoarding their supplies.
Families are also waiting hours to perform funeral rites, Reuters news agency reports, with at least one Delhi crematorium resorting to building pyres in its car park in order to cope with the numbers arriving. Crematoriums are holding mass cremations, and working day and night in several cities.
Prime Minister Modi chaired a high-level meeting on Thursday to discuss the oxygen supply issue. According to a government statement, he was told that an “elaborate exercise” is under way, with state governments to identify their needs so they can be supplied with oxygen.
To transport oxygen around the country faster, the canisters are being airlifted and put on direct trains, the statement says.