Twelve babies died at a state-run hospital in Kolkata, triggering protests by locals and relatives. The West Bengal government has ordered an inquiry into the incident.
Superintendent of B C Roy Hospital for Children, D Pal said that most of the 12 babies were either pre-mature or suffering from septicemia or low-birth weight problems. However, unconfirmed sources said 17 babies died at the hospital in the last 48 hours.
The medical institute is considered to be the largest referral pediatric hospital in the eastern region. "Most of these babies were brought in a moribund stage," Pal said.
"I have come to know that the babies were brought to the hospital at the last stage and that the cause of death was not enteric disease. I have ordered a probe and asked the authorities to submit a report to me," West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who also holds the health portfolio, told reporters.
Aggrieved over the deaths, family members and locals barged into the main building of the hospital alleging medical negligence, police said. The agitators also blocked the hospital road and were later chased away by policemen.
"There were some disturbances in the hospital compound in the morning, but the situation is normal now," the superintendent said.
Earlier in September 2002, there were protests in the same hospital when 14 children died of broncho-pneumonia and gastroenteritis.