Fire at neonatal department in a hospital in western Tivaouane city leaves 11 babies dead, the West African country's president says.

Origins of the blaze remain unclear but the nation has faced fires in recent history.
Origins of the blaze remain unclear but the nation has faced fires in recent history. (TRTWorld)

Eleven newborn babies have died in a hospital fire in the western Senegalese city of Tivaouane, the president of the West African country has 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" of Tivaouane, President Macky Sall said on Twitter late on Wednesday, without specifying the cause of the blaze.

The origins of the blaze remain unclear but the nation has faced fires in recent history. 

"To their mothers and their families, I express my deepest sympathy," Sall added.

The tragedy occurred at Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh Hospital in the transport hub of Tivaouane, and was caused by "a short circuit", according to Senegalese politician Diop Sy.

"The fire spread very quickly," he said.

The city's mayor Demba Diop said, "three babies were saved".

According to local media, the Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh Hospital was newly inaugurated.

Lack of public health system

A similar incident occurred in the northern town of Linguere in late April, when a fire broke out at a hospital and four newborn babies were killed. The mayor of that town had cited an electrical malfunction in an air conditioning unit in the maternity ward.

Wednesday's disaster comes over a month after the nation was rocked by news of the death of a pregnant woman who waited in vain for a Caesarean section.

In early April, a pregnant woman waited at a public hospital in the northwestern town of Louga for a Caesarean section. She died before she was able to get medical attention.

Her death caused a wave of outrage across the country on the dire state of Senegal's public health system.

Three midwives were sentenced on May 11 by the High Court of Louga to six months of suspended imprisonment for "failure to assist a person in danger" in connection to her case.

Three other midwives were acquitted.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies