Two young children were killed Tuesday and eight others injured in a fire that ravaged an apartment building in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit.
The municipality named the victims as siblings Efrat Ginsberg, 4, and Tzvi Ginsberg, 2.
One witness told the Ynet news site that the fire was caused by a night-light that exploded and fell onto a bed. “Three of the children manged to get out and go to a neighbor, but the couldn’t get the other two out,” the witness said.
Police said an investigation had been opened the cause of the deadly blaze.
Local fire chief Dedi Simchi called it a “very serious incident.”
“It just shows the importance of following fire prevention regulations. It is very important not to leave children unattended,” he told reporters at the scene.
It was not immediately clear where the parents were, what their condition was or if they were among the eight people reported injured in the fire, which filled the five-story apartment building in the ultra-Orthodox settlement outside Jerusalem with smoke.
The fire was reported at 9 p.m. The fire occurred on the second floor of the five story building.
“Fire fighting teams quickly reached the site to rescue people and treat the wounded. To our sorrow they discovered two fatalities,” Simchi said, adding that they were still in the first stages of investigating the cause.
At least three of the injured were evacuated to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, according to the Magen David Adom rescue service, all due to smoke inhalation. This included a 22-year-old in moderate condition, as well as a 7 and 9-year-old who were each lightly injured.
“The Beitar Illit Municipality together with all residents of the city are shocked, grieving and shaken by the tragic passing of the two young children,” the city said in a statement.
Social workers and psychologists were called in to assist their family, the municipality said, and Mayor Meir Rubenstein was at the scene to help oversee rescue efforts.