(CNN) — Eleven newborn babies have died after a fire broke out in the neonatal department of the Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh Hospital in the western Senegalese city of Tivaouane, the country’s president, Macky Sall, said on Thursday.
“I have just learned, with pain and dismay, of the death of 11 newborn babies,” Sall said in a tweet.
“I express my deep compassion for their mothers and their families,” he added.
Senegal’s president has called for an investigation to determine the cause of the hospital fire, the country’s interior minister, Antoine Felix Abdoulaye Diome, told reporters during his visit to the hospital overnight on Wednesday.
“Beyond that, he asked that we review all the equipment and infrastructure dedicated to newborns who need assistance with machines for their care,” Diome said.
“We are going to do it here in Tivaouane and in all the hospitals in Senegal where there is a neonatal service,” he added.
CNN has reached out to the hospital, but has yet to hear back.
In a statement later Thursday, the country’s health ministry said an emergency response plan had been put in place and “arrangements are being made for the assistance of the families of the victims.”
The ministry statement added that Health Minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, who is attending the World Health Assembly in Geneva, had cut his trip short and would return to Senegal today.
Senegal’s Minister for Regional Planning and Local Government, Cheikh Bamba Dièye, described the fatal incident as “horrible and unacceptable” and urged an investigation into the country’s health systems.
“I am shocked by the horrific and unacceptable death of 11 newborn babies in Tivaoune. The recurrence of tragedies in our hospitals reminds us of the obligation to thoroughly review the quality of service in our hospitals. My condolences to the families,” he said. in a Twitter post.