Thursday 22 August, 2019

UPDATE: Jamaicans who perished in New York fire identified

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a news conference after fire crews responded to a building fire Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a news conference after fire crews responded to a building fire Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The four members of a Jamaican family who perished in a massive fire at their apartment complex in the Bronx, New York on Thursday have been identified.

They are 37-year-old Karen Francis and her two children – two-year-old Kyle Francis and seven-year-old Kelisha Francis. Mrs Francis’ 19-year-old niece, Shantae Young also perished in the blaze. In the meantime, her husband, Paul Francis is reportedly among four people admitted to hospital in critical condition.

The Jamaicans are reportedly from Spanish Town, St. Catherine, Loop News has learnt.

Twelve people perished in the blaze which was reportedly started by a child playing with a stove. It has been described as New York’s worst since a 1990 apartment fire claimed 87 lives.

Jamaica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it has received unconfirmed reports that Jamaicans, including children, are among the victims.

In a statement Friday morning, Foreign Affairs Minister, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith expressed sadness at the tragedy. She said the Ministry was working with its  Consulate General and the authorities in New York to glean further information on the incident. Johnson Smith said the Ministry was assured by the authorities that details such as the nationalities of the victims will be communicated through the usual channels as soon as they have been confirmed.

The fire reportedly broke out around 6:51 pm (2351 GMT) Thursday in a 25-apartment building near the Bronx Zoo, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the US financial capital.

Fueled by strong gusts of frigid wind, the flames quickly raced through the building.

More than 160 firefighters rushed to the scene and took some three hours to control the blaze, local media reported. In the bitter cold, water leaking from the hoses froze on the pavement.

Three girls -  aged one, two and seven - and an unidentified boy were among the dead, police said Friday. A 19-year-old woman was also killed.

Tearful residents said they heard cries of "fire, fire" in the building followed by a mad rush to exit the smoke-filled building. Many fled into the frigid night with just the clothes on their backs.

New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio called it an "unspeakable tragedy," in the middle of the holiday season. 

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