TRIPOLI — The putrefying bodies of around 80 people were found in a Tripoli hospital on Friday, apparently the unlucky victims of fighting that prevented the wounded from being treated, an AFP correspondent reported.

However, 17 patients were found alive, including a child, after having been trapped for days as rebel fighters sought to dislodge Kadhafi loyalists in the surrounding area of Abu Slim.

Rebels swarmed into the capital over the weekend and by Wednesday had seized control of most of the city.

But there was continued fighting in Abu Slim, a generally pro-Kadhafi neighbourhood, and loyalist snipers kept new patients and health care workers away from the hospital until Thursday, doctors said.

As the days passed, one after another of those wounded already inside died from lack of treatment.

On Friday morning, a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross evacuated the remaining 17 patients from the virtually deserted facility.

They had waited for days as the stench of decomposing bodies grew, the corridors spattered with blood, the morgue overflowing with corpses and dozens still in their hospital rooms.

Other bodies were placed outside in the garden, and one was still lying on a gurney outside the emergency ward.

"It is a disaster," said medical-student-turned-nurse Mohammed Yunis.

"There is no more medicine in the hospital, no more medical personnel. They all left for fear of the snipers."

Yunis said numerous bodies had already been removed from the hospital.

"There have been hundreds of deaths (in Tripoli) in recent days," he said, visibly shaken.