Children die in NYC fire

An extended family of Malian immigrants screamed for help in the night, and one woman tossed children from a second-floor window to try to save them, witnesses and authorities said today.


Among the dead were 7-month-old twins and boys ages 4 and 9, according to authorities and relatives.

A woman in her 40s also died, and 10 people were hospitalised.

Twenty-two members of the extended family from the impoverished west African nation lived in the three-story house, which was located near Yankee Stadium in the borough of the Bronx, the mayor said.

A space heater or an overloaded power strip may have started the blaze, the city’s deadliest since a 1990 nightclub fire, not including the Sept. 11 attacks, he said.

Outside the charred house, neighbours described how a woman had hurled children from the windows amid the blaze.

“All I see is just a big cloud of white dust and out of nowhere comes the first baby,” said Edward Soto, who caught the child.

He said he caught a second child moments later as screams of “help me, help me” were coming from the house.

Among the dead, according to family members, were Fatoumata Soumare and her three children: a son, Dgibril, and 7-month-old twins, Sisi and Harouma.

Their father, Mamadou Soumara, was driving his cab in Manhattan when he received a frantic phone call from his wife.

“She said, ‘We have a fire!’” Mr Soumara recalled.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do.

“I love her.

“I love my wife.”

Mr Soumara rushed to the building, arriving to see his children trapped inside but unable to help them.

Five children from another family perished in the blaze while their father was visiting their homeland.

Mousa Majassa, an official of the New York-based High Council for Malians Living Abroad, was headed back to New York after receiving the grim news that nearly half of his 11 children were dead, said council representative Bourema Niambele.

The fire destroyed the basement and first floor of the home.

The smell of smoke lingered hours afterward at the house.

Windows of the home were broken out, parts of the building were scorched and charred rubble was piled on the front porch.

The fire was brought under control about two hours after it began on Thursday.

Emergency workers wrapped children in blankets and rushed them away from the fire.

Adding to the misery, the victims were displaced on one of the coldest nights of the year.

Neighbour Elaine Martin was one of the first to discover the fire.

Child victims compound grief

A shoeless woman in a nightgown was on the street, shivering in the blistering cold and frantically worrying about her children.

“My kids is in there, my kids is in there,” Ms Martin quoted the woman as saying.

Mr Bloomberg said there were as many as 19 injuries, including four firefighters and an emergency medical worker.

The mayor said other residents of the house were seriously injured.

“It’s obviously terrible for anyone to perish like this,” Mr Bloomberg said.

“It just seems more painful and more unfair when children die.

“When children die, everyone around them seems to die a little as well.”

Five of the children, ranging in age from two to seven were taken to the Jacobi Medical Centre with smoke inhalation and burns, said hospital spokesman Michael Heller.

One of the victims – an infant less than a year old – died at there, he said.

Others were taken to other area hospitals.

Neighbours said at least one of the families ran an import-export business, and a public records search lists African American Import Export at the address.

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