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tragedy

Fire kills 11 newborn babies in Senegal hospital

Firefighters responded Thursday to a burning hospital in western Senegal where 11 newborn babies were killed, CNN reports.

The country's health minister, Diouf Sarr, said the fire likely started from an electrical short circuit. "We were told that there was a short circuit in the department," Sarr told CNN. "The nurses who were there intervened."

Sarr was at a World Health Assembly conference in Switzerland when he received a call about the fire at Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh Hospital. Macky Sall, the country's president, meanwhile, tweeted his "deepest sympathy" to the babies' mothers and families after he "learned with pain and consternation of the death of 11 newborn babies."

In commemoration of the loss, the president ordered three days of national mourning, requesting that flags fly at half staff during that time. He also launched an investigation into the fire.

Cheikh Bamba Dièye, the Senegalese Minister of regional planning and local government, described the incident as "horrific and unacceptable."

"The recurrence of tragedies in our hospitals reminds us of the obligation to thoroughly review the quality of service in our hospitals. My deepest condolences to the families," he said.