At least 15 children died after receiving vaccinations in rebel-held parts of Syria.
The children, some just babies, all exhibited signs of "severe allergic shock" about an hour after they were given a second round of measles vaccinations in the north-western province of Idlib on Tuesday.
Many suffocated to death as their bodies swelled, said physician Abdullah Ajaj, who administered the vaccinations in a medical centre. It was unclear what killed the children, but Ajaj said that they all exhibited the same symptoms to varying degrees. He said it was the first time he had ever seen such symptoms after vaccinations.
"There was shouting and screaming, it was hard for the parents. You get your child vaccinated and then you find your child dying, it's very hard," Ajaj said.
Syria's conflict, now in its fourth year, has caused the collapse of its health system in contested areas, scattering medics, destroying clinics and making medicines and equipment difficult to obtain. Vaccination efforts have been thrown into disarray, and polio re-emerged in parts of Syria last year.
It was also reported yesterday that the death toll from two days of government airstrikes in the central city of Talbiseh climbed to nearly 50, a heavy toll even by the vicious standards of the country's civil war.