New York: Nineteen people including nine children were killed when a fire enveloped a part of a 19-story residential apartment building in Bronx in New York in what authorities said was one of the worst fires in the city in recent times.
Media reports said 32 people were rushed to hospitals and that several’ of them were in serious condition. Daniel Nigro, Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department, was quoted as saying earlier that at least 63 people were injured.
Nigro blamed a “malfunctioning electric space heater” for the tragedy. The fire first consumed the bedroom of an apartment, then the entire unit and then quickly spread throughout the 50-year-old building as the apartment door was open.
“This is a horrific, horrific, painful moment for the city of New York,” CNN quoted him as saying.
Around 200 firefighters battled the flames. Though only two floors were on fire, the smoke spread everywhere, causing mayhem.
“Members found victims on every floor in stairwells and were taking them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest,” he added.
Some residents who tried to escape failed because of the volume of smoke, media reports sad.
The residential apartment has 120 units. Many who lived in the complex were Muslims, mainly from Gambia in Africa.
The New York Mayor said one of the priorities will be to ensure that the victims get Islamic last rites.