Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday said his government had sent a team to Kota city to investigate the deaths of 10 infants in Jay Kay Lon Hospital earlier this week, IANS reported. At least 77 children have in the hospital have died this month, with the 10 deaths occurring on Monday and Tuesday.

The team led by Medical Education Secretary Vaibhav Galeria has been instructed to prepare a detailed report on an urgent basis. A team of doctors will accompany Galeria. The chief minister has promised severe punishment for those responsible for the deaths.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, who was elected to Parliament from Kota, expressed concern about the deaths. “The untimely death of 10 newborns in 48 hours in the Jay Kay Lon Maternal and Child Hospital of Kota, my parliamentary constituency, is a matter of concern,” he tweeted. “Rajasthan government should take immediate action in this matter.”

Birla also wrote to Ashok Gehlot on the matter, reported PTI.

Meanwhile, the hospital claimed there was nothing unusual about the deaths. “Our investigation says that 10 deaths were normal and children did not die because of any negligence,” said Hospital Superintendent Dr HL Meena.

Most of the children were in terminal condition when they were referred to the hospital from private and government health centres, the doctor claimed. As a result, “an average one to three infants die in the hospital every day”, Meena told Hindustan Times. “There are also days when there is no death at all. So, death of 10 infants in two days is although high, but not unusual.”

Meena added that infant mortality rate at the hospital had reduced in recent years. Amrit Lal Bairwa, the head of the pediatrics department, said 20% death rate was “acceptable” in neonatal intensive care units. The rate was 10 to 15% at the hospital, he added.

Referring to five of the 10 deaths, Dr Bairwa said while three out of the five had severe birth asphyxia, or oxygen deprivation, the other two had septicaemia and severe infection. These newborns died within a few days of being admitted to the hospital, he added.

The hospital has set up a three-member committee headed by Dr Bairwa to investigate the deaths.