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Five babies die in fire at India hospital

  • Story Highlights
  • Five newborns killed in electrical fire in Punjab state
  • Five other babies were saved by staff members
  • The infants were being treated for neonatal jaundice
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NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Five newborns receiving treatment for a skin ailment at a government hospital in north India died after a fire broke out Saturday, authorities said.

Surinder Singh, the medical superintendent of Rajendra hospital in Punjab state, told CNN that all babies were less than 2 weeks old.

"It appeared to be an electric short circuit" that caused the fire, Singh said.

The incident happened about 4 a.m. (5:30 p.m. ET), according to hospital authorities. Hospital staff members were able to save five other babies, three of whom are receiving treatment for burns, according to Singh.

The babies were all being treated for neonatal jaundice, the yellowing of the skin that sometimes occurs in newborns. The newborns were in the phototherapy unit, where skin ailments are treated with light therapy.

Punjab's Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said an inquiry has been ordered into the hospital fire.

In a statement, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed sadness over the newborn deaths and announced assistance of about $2,000 for each bereaved family.

CNN's Harmeet Shah Singh contributed to this report.

All About IndiaManmohan Singh

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