Pregnant woman and three children killed in Dublin flat fire
A pregnant mother, her daughter and two other children have died in an apartment fire in Ireland.
The woman, aged 27 and understood to be several months pregnant, was living with her two-year-old daughter in Clondalkin, west Dublin, in a complex operated by a charity which helps victims of domestic violence.
Another woman who was staying in the apartment with her was fighting for her life in hospital, while her three-year-old daughter and four-year-old son died.
The boy was rushed with her to Our Lady's Hospital, Crumlin, in Dublin where they were both treated for several hours before he died.
While the cause of the blaze is not being treated as suspicious, gardai said investigations were continuing into how it started and they were keeping an "open mind".
The initial focus was on an electrical fault in the apartment.
President of Ireland Michael D Higgins led messages of sympathy as he held an event to mark International Women's Day.
"I do want to express my sympathy to all of those affected by the tragedy in Clondalkin. The women involved would have been represented here today. All of our hearts must go out to these women and children," he said.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Children's Minister Katherine Zappone also extended condolences.
The alarm was raised at about 2.30am, with several 999 calls being made to emergency services and crews on scene within five minutes.
The apartment was fitted with a working fire alarm that was set off by the blaze.
The Sonas organisation, which supports domestic violence victims and provides secure accommodation for up to two years after women move on from refuges, has four apartments and six houses in the Cluainin Cronan complex.
Fiona Ryan, chief executive of the charity, said it had been left absolutely devastated by the tragedy.
"Our sympathies and condolences are with the relatives and friends of the deceased and all those impacted by this awful tragedy," she said.
Ms Ryan said the charity was liaising with gardai and fire chiefs investigating the circumstances of the fire.
"We are currently supporting other families in the apartment complex including those unable to return to their homes because of fire damage, for whom we are sourcing alternative accommodation," she said.
Dublin Fire Brigade said its rescue teams took the two women and three children from the first-floor apartment and p aramedics treated them in the grounds of the complex.
Despite resuscitation efforts, the 27-year-old woman and the two girls were pronounced dead at Tallaght Hospital.
It is understood that another seven residents were evacuated from the block where the fire started.
Gardai appealed for witnesses to come forward as technical examinations continue to determine the cause of the fire.
Eoin O Broin, Sinn Fein TD in Dublin Mid-West and an elected representative in the Clondalkin area for many years, said his thoughts were with those directly affected and that local people were numbed by the tragedy.
"The community here in Kilcronan is resilient and will come together to comfort those who have lost loved ones in this fire," he said.