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7 Arrested after Fire Kills Infants at Algeria Maternity Hospital

7 Arrested after Fire Kills Infants at Algeria Maternity Hospital

Thursday, 26 September, 2019 - 11:15
People standing outside the maternity unit of a hospital in Oued Souf. Photo by STRINGER / various sources / AFP

Algerian authorities have arrested seven people in connection with a fire at a neonatal hospital that left eight babies dead, the official APS news agency reported Thursday.


The blaze on Tuesday ripped through the hospital in the eastern town of Oued Souf some 633 km south of Algiers, killing eight newborns, some from burns and others from smoke inhalation.


A preliminary inquiry showed an electrical short circuit caused the fire.


Health Minister Mohamed Miraoui ordered the suspension of the district health director, the director of the hospital and the hospital's security team.


On Wednesday, the public prosecutor of Oued Souf ordered six people placed in custody for "negligence, neglect and manslaughter", according to APS. 


They include the hospital head, the maternity management coordinator, the duty manager, the medical supervisor, the head of the paediatrics and neonatal department, as well as a maintenance worker.


On Thursday, a Cuban nurse was also detained for "negligence and involuntary homicide", APS reported.


Doctors told Agence France Presse it was the first time "in memory" that infants had died in a hospital fire.


It was the second blaze to hit the maternity hospital in Oued Souf in 16 months. A fire in May last year caused significant damage but no casualties.


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