At least 19 people were killed, including nine children, and dozens of others injured in an apartment building fire in New York City’s deadliest blaze in three decades.
Trapped residents broke windows for air and stuffed wet towels under doors as smoke rose from a lower-floor apartment where the fire started. Survivors told of fleeing in panic through darkened hallways, barely able to breathe.
Nineteen people died in the blaze that broke out about 11am (16:00 GMT) on Sunday in the Twin Parks apartment building in the Bronx area of the city, New York City Mayor Eric Adams confirmed.
The 19-storey tower provided affordable housing and had a large community of people of Gambian origin. The children who died were 16 years old or younger, said Stefan Ringel, a senior adviser to the mayor.
“This is a horrific, horrific, painful moment for the city of New York,” Adams told reporters. “The numbers are horrific.”
More than five dozen people were hurt and 13 were hospitalised in critical condition. The fire commissioner said most of the victims had severe smoke inhalation.
The fire started from a portable electric heater in the bedroom of one of the apartments, officials said.
The smoke spread to every floor of the building, probably because the door to the apartment had been left open, the city’s fire department commissioner Daniel Nigro told reporters.