11 Newborns Killed in Hospital Fire, Senegal’s Leader Says
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At least 11 newborns were killed after a fire tore through a neonatal unit of a regional hospital in the West African nation of Senegal, the country’s president, Macky Sall, said on Thursday on Twitter.
Mr. Sall, who was on a state visit to Angola, said the blaze had broken out at Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh Hospital in Tivaouan, which is about 75 miles east of Dakar, the capital.
“To their mothers and their families, I express my deepest sympathy,” Mr. Sall said.
He gave no further details.
Senegal’s health minister, Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, who was in Geneva for the World Health Assembly, posted on Twitter, “We learned with sorrow of the deadly fire in the neonatology department of the Mame A. A. Sy Dabakh hospital in Tivaouane.” He said that he had dispatched a delegation to the site of the blaze and was cutting short his trip to immediately return to Dakar.
Cheikh Bamba Dièye, minister of regional planning and local government, suggested on Twitter that deeper scrutiny of the state of the country’s hospitals was in order.
“I am appalled by the horrific and unacceptable death of 11 newborn babies in Tivaoune,” he wrote. “The recurrence of tragedies in our hospitals reminds us of the obligation to thoroughly review the quality of service in our hospitals.”
At least nine children died in a house fire in the Medina neighborhood of Dakar in 2013, Senegal’s state news agency reported at the time. Seven of the children were Koranic students who took classes from a holy man who employed them as beggars.
In 2017, a fire killed at least 22 people and injured more than 100 during an Islamic festival in the village of Médina Gounas, in the eastern part of the country. In 2010, six people had been killed and several injured after a blaze broke out at the same spiritual retreat.
Médina Gounas, an autonomous community ruled by Islamic law, rejected a suggestion by government officials to fireproof several buildings at the center where the festival is held, saying any changes to the structures would destroy their spiritual significance.