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Senegal’s President Macky Sall has confirmed that 11 newborn babies died in a horrible fire at the neonatal section of a regional hospital.

The hospital is in the town of Tivaouane, around 120 km (74.56 miles) east of the capital Dakar..

“I have just learned with pain and consternation the death of 11 newborn babies in the fire that occurred in the neonatology department of the Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh hospital in Tivaouane,” Sall said in a tweet without giving further details about the fire.

To their mothers and their families, I express my deepest sympathy,” Sall, who is on a state visit in Angola, added.

Senegal’s health minister, Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, said on private Senegalese television TFM that “according to preliminary investigation, a short circuit triggered the fire”.

Sarr, who is in Geneva for the World Health Assembly, said he would cut short the trip and return to Senegal immediately.

Demba Diop Sy, the mayor of Tivaouane, one of Senegal’s holy cities and a transport hub, said police and fire service were still at the hospital, but did not provide further details.

The tragedy was caused by a short circuit. 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.

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