Gaza baby dies after respirator runs out of fuel

Palestinians hold a rally demanding Egypt provide the Gaza Strip with electricity and diesel in Jabaliya Refugee Camp, Friday, March 23, 2012. (AP photo/Hatem Moussa)

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A Gaza man said Sunday his 5-month-old baby died after the generator powering his respirator ran out of fuel, the first known death linked to the territory's energy crisis.

The baby, who was born with lymphatic disorder, had only a few months to live, said his father, Abdul-Rahim Helou, 27. But his parents miscalculated how much fuel a new generator needed to remove fluids that accumulated in his respiratory system, he said.

"If we were living in a normal country with electricity, I think his chances of living (longer) would have been better," Helou said.

Gaza health official Bassem al-Qadri said the baby arrived dead at a Gaza City hospital on Friday night.

The baby's death highlights the human cost Gaza's 1.6 million residents are paying for 18-hour-a-day blackouts, triggered by a cutoff of Egyptian fuel.

Shortages have caused days-long lines for fuel at gas stations, a sharp reduction in public transportation and families left shivering in poorly built apartments during a wet and cold winter.

More than a year ago, Hamas decided to power Gaza's only power plant with smuggled fuel from Egypt, rather than pay for more expensive Israeli fuel, as it had done in the past.

Egypt started cutting off the supplies weeks ago because it was suffering shortages itself.

Israel provided some fuel last week.