Twelve babies died at a state-run hospital in Kolkata, triggering protests by locals and relatives, which prompted the West Bengal government to order an enquiry into it.
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. The medical institute is considered to be the largest referral paediatric hospital in the eastern region.
"Most of these babies were brought in a moribund stage," he said.
However, unconfirmed sources said 17 babies died at the hospital in the last 48 hours.
"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 in Kolkata.
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.
The superintendent also said, "There were some disturbances in the hospital compound in the morning, but the situation is normal now."
Earlier in September 2002, there were protests in the same hospital when 14 children died of broncho-pneumonia and gastro-enteritis.