Fire at Algerian maternity hospital kills 8 newborn babies

The fire broke out this morning in a hospital in the town of El Oued

FILE PHOTO: Algeria's newly appointed prime minister, Noureddine Bedoui, speaks at a news conference in Algiers, March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Algerian state media says eight newborns have died in a fire in the maternity wing of a hospital near the country’s border with Tunisia, with the country's health minister saying the blaze may have been caused by a defective anti-mosquito device..

ENTV television and national radio reported that the fire broke out at 4am on Tuesday in the hospital in the town of El Oued, 600 kilometres southwest of the capital. The report did not say whether any adults were hurt.

"We managed to rescue 11 babies, 107 women and 28 staff" after the 3:50 am (0250 GMT) fire in the hospital in Oued Souf, 500 kilometres (300 miles) southeast of Algiers, spokesman Captain Nassim Bernaoui said.

"Unfortunately we regret the deaths of eight babies, some from burns and others from smoke inhalation."

Three babies died of burns and five of asphyxiation, the emergency service said.

Dozens of fire engines were deployed to bring the blaze under control.

Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui ordered an inquiry and sent Health Minister Mohamed Miraoui to the scene of the fire.

Mr Miraoui said on Ennahar television that an investigation will determine whether the anti-mosquito device was responsible.

It was the second blaze to hit the maternity hospital in Oued Souf in 18 months. A fire in May last year caused significant damage but no casualties.

The hospital is one of five in the town, including a specialist eye hospital staffed by Cuban doctors.