Eight newborn babies have died in a fire that began in the maternity ward of an Algerian hospital. The blaze swept through a wing of the Al-Um Bashir bin Nasser Hospital near the border with Tunisia today.
Three babies died of burns and five others of asphyxiation, the emergency service said. Authorities believe the fire may have been caused by a defective anti-mosquito device. In total, 11 newborns, 37 mothers and 28 staff members were evacuated after the blaze broke out at 4am (3am UK time) in the town of El Oued, some 360 miles from the capital, Algiers.
Health Minister Mohamed Miraoui said on Ennahar television that an investigation will determine the cause of the fire. Initial findings pointed to an electric spark, possibly linked to the mosquito device, being the trigger. State television reported that the health minister has suspended the hospital’s manager and the health director of El Oued province as a result of the blaze.
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