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Farmhouse fire kills seven children

Seven children have been killed in a fire at a farmhouse in the United States.

Police said the blaze happened while the children's mother was in a barn milking cows and their father was taking a nap in a milk delivery truck.

A three-year-old child survived the tragedy, but seven aged seven months to 11 years were killed.

The children's father had left the two-storey home, on a working farm near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to get his truck at about 10pm on Tuesday, said police trooper Tom Pinkerton. Two children, aged two and three, were watching television at the time.

The father drove a short distance to pick up milk and then parked the truck about a mile from home. He then fell asleep in the vehicle, Mr Pinkerton added.

Soon after, the three-year-old smelled smoke in the home and ran to the barn to alert the mother. She apparently tried to enter the house before asking a neighbour to call the emergency services. She ran with the child to the father's truck and banged on its windows, screaming that their home was on fire.

By the time the father returned to the home in Blain, about 20 miles north of Harrisburg, it was fully engulfed by flames, Mr Pinkerton said. Firefighters had arrived and were battling the blaze.

Mr Pinkerton said a coroner ruled the children died of smoke inhalation.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, and an investigation is under way.

A fire engine and an ambulance remained at the scene on Wednesday while firefighters sifted through debris on the ground floor of the farmhouse, which is surrounded by barns and silos.

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