Daily Courier – Eleven newborn babies died in a hospital blaze in the western Senegalese city of Tivaouane late on Wednesday, President Macky Sall said.
“I have just learned with pain and dismay about the deaths of 11 newborn babies in the fire at the neonatal department of the public hospital,” Sall wrote on Twitter just before midnight (0000 GMT).
“To their mothers and their families, I express my deepest sympathy,” he tweeted.
The tragedy occurred at Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh Hospital in the transport hub of Tivaouane, and was caused by “a short circuit”, health minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr was quoted in media reports as saying.
The maternity unit was equipped to take care of 13 babies.
“At the time of the fire, there were 11, whom nurses were unable to save,” the minister said.
But according to the city’s mayor, Demba Diop, “three babies were saved”.
“My son was christened yesterday. He was only nine days old. The maternity ward was full and I don’t think there are any survivors,” one unidentified mother told the news website, Dakaractu.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted that he was “beyond heartbroken with this tragic news.
“I’m sending my deepest condolences to the parents and families of the babies who lost their lives.”
“It is with horror and great pain that I learned of the death of 11 newborn babies at Tivaouane hospital. Let us pray for these innocent people who have disappeared. My deepest condolences to the bereaved parents,” said former prime minister Abdoul Mbaye.
Reacting also, Opposition politician Mamadou Lamine Diallo also responded with outrage to the Tivaouane blaze that killed the babies.
“More babies burned in a public hospital … this is unacceptable @MackySall,” he wrote on Twitter.
“We suffer with the families to whom we offer our condolences. Enough is enough,” he added.