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A deadly fire in a hospital in Senegal has claimed the lives of 11 newborns.
The fire broke out on Wednesday May 25 at the Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh hospital in Tivaouane, a city in northwestern Senegal (West Africa), located about 120 km from Dakar, the national capital.
In an interview broadcast on Radio Futurs Médias (RFM), the mayor of Tivaouane, Diop Sy, told the public that the fire broke out in the neonatology department following an electrical short circuit and had spread in less than five minutes, according to Reuters.
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Two nurses escaped the fire, but they were unable to save the babies from their incubators, Sy said.
The hospital ward was inspected by risk and security expert Amadou Kanar Diop, who found that the walls were charred. Diop said it appears service personnel were quickly overwhelmed by the flames, according to Reuters.
“You can see that they used several cartridges of fire extinguishers,” Diop reportedly told Reuters.
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Macky Sall, the President of the Republic of Senegal, tweeted Wednesday evening shortly after the news reached him.
“I have just learned with pain and dismay of the death of 11 newborns in the fire that occurred in the neonatology department of the Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh hospital in Tivaouane”, he wrote, in French. “To their mothers and their families, I express my deepest sympathy.”
Families rushed to the hospital to check on their newborn babies, and some received dire news, including Diali Kaba, who lost her 10-day-old baby girl.
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The Tivaouane hospital fire follows a similar tragedy last year in the town of Linguère, where a hospital fire killed four infants on April 25, 2021. Linguère is located more than 200 miles north northeast of Tivaouane –
Reuters reports that residents and political parties are calling for preventive security measures in Senegalese hospitals.
The Minister of Health of the Republic of Senegal, Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, has announced that he will cut short his trip to the World Health Assembly in Geneva in order to be able to return to Senegal immediately, according to Télé Futurs Médias (TFM), a private television channel.
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Reuters contributed to this report.