Eight babies have died after a fire ripped through a maternity hospital in eastern Algeria early this morning.

"We managed to rescue 11 babies, 107 women and 28 staff" fire in the hospital in Oued Souf, 500km southeast of Algiers, said emergency services spokesman Captain Nassim Bernaoui.

"Unfortunately we regret the deaths of eight babies, some from burns and others from smoke inhalation."

Dozens of fire engines were deployed to bring the blaze under control, which began at around 3.50am local time.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear, Mr Bernaoui said.

Algerian Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui ordered an inquiry and sent Minister for Health Mohamed Miraoui to the scene of the fire.

It was the second blaze to hit the maternity hospital in Oued Souf in 18 months.

A fire in May last year caused significant damage but no casualties.

The hospital is one of five in the town, including a specialist eye hospital staffed by Cuban doctors.