Chittoor district health officials visited the hospital in the temple town to begin an inquiry ordered by Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy.
A state minister who visited the hospital Thursday denied that the deaths were due to negligence by the doctors but admitted to shortage of doctors and lack of medical infrastructure at the government-run facility.
Mines and Geology Minister Galla Aruna Kumari, who hails from the same district, said 206 children were undergoing treatment in the 90-bed hospital.
"There is a problem due to shortage of doctors and the government is trying to address the same," she said.
The minister said unlike private hospitals which refused to admit the critically ill patients, the government facility admitted all children coming for treatment. "It is unfair to blame doctors for what happened here," she told reporters.
Hospital officials said the children were brought here at "late stage" and despite their best efforts the infants died.
During the visit to the hospital, the minister had to face an angry protest from Bharatiya Janata Party workers, who demanded that the government take action against doctors for their negligence.
Parents alleged that non-availability of senior doctors on Independence Day Wednesday and the negligence led to the deaths.
Hospital Superintendent J. Veeraswamy also denied reports that 11 children had died.
Hyderabad: The health authorities in Andhra Pradesh Thursday began a probe into the death of five children at the SVR. Ruia Government General Hospital in Tirupati the day before due to alleged negligence by doctors.
First Published: Thursday, August 16, 2012, 18:39