26 babies die in hospital
Kolkata - At least 26 infants have died in the past five days in a state-run hospital in India's West Bengal state, authorities said on Sunday.
The hospital in Malda, about 340km north of Kolkata, has come under attack for negligence while state health officials claim the babies were underweight and several of them were "terminally ill".
"Two more babies died on Sunday taking the death toll to 26. Most of them were underweight and had been suffering from birth asphyxia," West Bengal health services director Biswa Ranjan Satpathi told AFP by telephone.
Many of the terminally ill babies were referred to the Malda hospital from adjacent districts and the neighbouring states of Bihar and Jharkhand, Satpathi added.
Satpathi said the hospital has 60 beds for infants - barely enough to cope with the surge in patients.
"More than 14 000 babies were admitted to the hospital over the past three months. The hospital does not have the infrastructure to offer treatment to so many infants," he said.
In June, at least 17 babies died in a period of 36 hours at another government hospital in Kolkata, highlighting the poor state of health services in West Bengal.