Eleven newborn babies died in a fire at the neonatal section of a regional hospital in Senegal’s Tivaouane, about 120 km (74.5 miles) east of the capital Dakar, President Macky Sall said late Wednesday.
“I have just learned with pain and consternation the death of 11 newborn babies in the fire that occurred in the neonatology department of the Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh hospital in Tivaouane,” Sall said on Twitter.
“To their mothers and their families, I express my deepest sympathy,” Sall added. He is currently on a state visit to Angola.
Senegal’s Minister of Health and Welfare Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr said that “according to preliminary investigation, a short circuit triggered the fire”.
Currently in Geneva for the World Health Assembly, Sarr said he would cut short the trip and return immediately.
Police and fire services were at the hospital but no further details were provided.
Series of hospital tragedies in sharp focus
The fire is the latest in a string of incidents linked to public health facilities in Senegal. Last month, the death of a woman in a hospital who tried in vain for some 20 hours to get an emergency caesarean section drew national attention and led to a court case in which three midwives were given custodial sentences and another three were acquitted.
Also in April, a fire broke out at a hospital in the northern town of Linguere, resulting in the death of four babies.
In response to the Wednesday incident, opposition lawmaker Mamadou Lamine Diallo said on Twitter: “More babies burned in a public hospital… this is unacceptable, Macky Sall.”
“We suffer with the families to whom we offer our condolences. Enough is enough.”
see/msh (Reuters, AFP)