Police are investigating whether the deaths of eight newborn babies in a Russian hospital during the first ten days of January were caused by frequent power outages, local media reported on Saturday.
The eight infants were linked up to artificial respiration units in the hospital in the North Caucasus city of Nalchik, the capital of Russia's Kabardino-Balkaria, according to the reports.
The Life News Internet site said the hospital saw frequent outages during the first half of January.
"When there were blackouts, nurses and doctors were pumping oxygen manually ... And the next day there was a power outage again. Then we learned that our baby died," a mother of one of the babies told the website.
The investigation committee of the prosecutor's office has opened a criminal inquiry into "negligence which resulted in the death of two or more people". It is also investigating the local power supplier.
Kabardino-Balkaria's Health Ministry denied the deaths were caused by the negligence of doctors.
According to a World Health Organisation study, almost 99 percent of newborn or neonatal deaths - those in the first four weeks of life - occur in the developing world.
Endemic corruption and corner-cutting as well as aging infrastructure have resulted in major manmade catastrophes in recent years in Russia, such as plane crashes, satellite failures and a nuclear submarine disaster.