At least 19 people, including nine children, have died after a fire tore through an apartment block in New York City.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams confirmed the “horrific” number of dead in the Bronx apartment building fire.
A city official who was not allowed to speak to the media confirmed to Associated Press the number of children dead.
More than 60 people were injured and 13 people were still in critical condition in the hospital, Stefan Ringel, a senior adviser to Mayor Eric Adams said.
“This is going to be one of the worst fires that we have witnessed during modern times,” Mayor Eric Adams said.
The majority of victims were suffering from severe smoke inhalation, New York City Fire Department commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
Around 200 firefighters responded to the blaze at the Twin Park apartments, a 19-storey building on the Bronx’s East 181st Street.
Photos posted online showing a rescue ladder extended up to the eighth floor, multiple limp children being given oxygen after being carried from the building, and evacuees with their faces covered in soot.
Firefighters “found victims on every floor and were taking them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest”, Mr Nigro said.
“That is unprecedented in our city. We expect there to be numerous fatalities.”
He added that the fire originated in a duplex apartment spanning the second and third floors and firefighters found the door to the apartment open, which apparently allowed the flames to accelerate and spread smoke quickly.
Mr Nigro went on to describe the blaze as one of the worst fires to hit the city in recent memory, comparing it to the Happy Land social club incident in 1990, which killed 89 people.
People in the nearby area have been advised to close their windows to avoid smoke inhalation, by the New York City Emergency Management department.
The fire is not believed to be suspicious in origin but the cause is under investigation.