NAIROBI (Reuters) – The governor of Nairobi found the bodies of 12 infants in the mortuary of a hospital in the capital – an unusually high figure even amid declining standards of health care in Kenya – when he made a surprise visit to the facility at the weekend.

Governor Mike Sonko on Monday ordered an investigation into the matter and suspended senior staff, his office said.

It was not immediately clear what had killed the babies at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital or what had happened to their mothers.

But the incident reflected declining public health care in Kenya, with patients often complaining about neglect and a lack of drugs in hospitals.

Government health workers have staged several strikes over low pay and critics say deaths resulting from negligence are common. But such a high number of deaths of babies over a short period of time at the same hospital is rare.

“Sonko stormed the hospital’s mortuary where he was surprised to discover twelve bodies of infants who died at the hospital over the weekend in unclear circumstances,” a statement from his office said.

The governor said he would punish all those responsible for the deaths.

“I’m not going to allow this to happen to our mothers,” he said.

The Pumwani hospital, one of the oldest in Nairobi and which caters to mostly poor people, could not be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Humphrey Malalo; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Angus MacSwan)