The West Bengal government has ordered an inquiry into the deaths at the institute, which is considered to be the largest referral paediatric hospital in the eastern region.

Hospital superintendent, D Pal said that most of the babies were either pre-mature or suffering from septicemia or low-birth weight problems. "Most of these babies were brought in a moribund stage," he said.

"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 here.

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.

Earlier in September 2002, there were protests in the same hospital when 14 children died of broncho-pneumonia and gastro-enteritis.

Source: PTI