Ankara - AFP

A total of 20 newborn babies have died in the past 15 days at a state hospital in Ankara, the chief physician at the hospital told the Anatolia news agency yesterday.
About one-third of the deaths were caused by infections, Dr. Leyla Mollamahmutoğlu, chief surgeon at Dr. Zekai Tahir Burak Women Health, Education and Research Hospital, said, adding that most babies were also born prematurely. Mollamahmutoğlu said there was no evidence of infection in the hospital.
The head of the delivery section, professor Uğur Dilmen, said samples taken from the babies showed that infection was not the cause of the deaths. He said the causes of death were birth defects, high blood pressure and other reasons.
The hospital was not to blame, he said, arguing that all the precautions that could be taken were in place.
But the Medical Workers' Union, or SES, put the number of deaths at 27 and said they took place between Thursday and Saturday.
The head of the Ankara branch of SES, İbrahim Kara, blamed poor sanitary conditions, saying the delivery section was relocated to an insalubrious part of the building due to repairs at the hospital.
"The delivery room was moved to a compound with insufficient sanitary conditions, prone to infections," Kara told Agence France-Presse.
"Two or three women are made to wait on the same stretcher before giving birth and sometimes three newborn babies are put in the same incubator," he said.