Doctors said Keerthi had developed mild labour pains, but around 2.30 p.m., she suddenly went into cardiac arrest.

A tense situation prevailed at the Women and Children Hospital, Thycaud, on Monday after a section of the local people and politicians raised a protest following the sudden death of a young woman who had been admitted there for delivery.

Keerthi, 29, of Aanad who had been admitted to the hospital a week ago, had been moved to the labour room on Monday morning after she showed signs of going into labour. Her expected date of delivery was on Sunday.

Doctors said Keerthi had developed mild labour pains, but around 2.30 p.m., she suddenly went into cardiac arrest. A senior doctor said the doctors and the anaesthetist immediately went to work on resuscitating her, but the shock had been too massive and by 3.15 p.m., it was evident that the patient could not be revived. The baby also died. “It was a shock for us too, the manner in which she went into cardiac arrest. She did not have any previous or immediate complications associated with pregnancy, and her previous deliveries too had been normal,” the doctor said.

This had been the young woman’s fourth gestation. Her baby in the first pregnancy had died following some problem, the second pregnancy had been terminated medically, while her only surviving child in her third gestation had been born with some congenital anomalies.

After the news of Keerthi’s death broke, there was much commotion in the hospital, with a group of local people, allegedly Democratic Youth Federation of India activists, alleging that the death was owing to medical negligence. The Additional District Magistrate and senior health officials reached the hospital.

The Thampanoor police have registered a case of unnatural death. Forensic doctors will conduct a post-mortem examination at the Government Medical College Hospital on Tuesday in the presence of the Revenue Divisional Officer. The procedure will be recorded as court evidence. The District Medical Officer said he would submit a report to the Health Minister. Meanwhile, a communication from the Health Minister’s office said Additional Director of Health Services Kumari J. Prema had been asked to conduct an inquiry into the incident.