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At least 14 die when hospital power cut is by gnawing rat

August 26, 1997

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) _ A power outage at a state-run hospital in northern Honduras, caused when a rat gnawed through wiring, left 14 patients dead _ including four newborn babies in incubators.

Although the power went out Sunday night, the hospital director admitted Tuesday that the deaths were not discovered until Monday morning, raising questions about how employees handled the blackout.

The Attorney General’s office said Tuesday it was investigating the deaths.

First reports on Monday said six patients died when the power was cut to life-support machines at the Catarino Rivas Hospital in San Pedro Sula, 115 miles north of Tegucigalpa, the capital.

But Health Minister Enrique Samayoa said Tuesday an investigation showed that at least 14 people died when the electricity was cut _ including four newborn babies in incubators.

Samayoa said full electricity was restored Monday night.

``All of the patients died Sunday night for lack of oxygen ... and the nurses learned of their deaths on Monday morning,″ hospital Director Gustavo Zuniga said. ``The hospital has very few employees on the weekends.″

The rat’s remains were discovered in the machine room next to the chewed cable.

Two hundred other hospital patients were taken to nearby hospitals after the deaths were discovered.

Update hourly