A fire tore through a Bronx apartment building on Thursday, killing at least 12 people, including a toddler, and leaving four others fighting for their lives in New York's deadliest blaze in decades.
The fire broke out around 6:51pm (2351 GMT) in a 25-apartment building near the Bronx Zoo, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the US financial capital.
A one-year-old child was among those killed as Red Cross volunteers handed out blankets and emergency responders set up a makeshift shelter in a nearby school on a bitterly cold night.
UPDATE: "Unspeakable tragedy" says @NYCMayor as death toll rises to 12 from Bronx fire, including a baby. Blaze broke out at a five-story building. VIDEO shows firefighters working in frigid temps to rescue people. #Bronxfire @KSL5TV @KSLcom @kslnewsradio https://t.co/1CAdsyvHmj pic.twitter.com/ipo6Ca7fWk— Ladd Egan (@laddegan) December 29, 2017
Tearful residents spoke of hearing shouts of "fire, fire" in the building and a mad rush to exit the property, battling past the smoke, with just the clothes on their backs into the sub-freezing night.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called it an "unspeakable tragedy," in the middle of the holiday season when families come together, as the city of 8.5 million straddles Christmas and New Year festivities.
"Tonight here in the Bronx there are families that have been torn apart. This is the worst fire tragedy we have seen in this city in at least a quarter century," de Blasio said.
"I am sorry to report 12 New Yorkers are dead, including one child as young as one year old," he told reporters after fire fighters extinguished the flames.
"There are four people critically injured who are fighting for their lives, other serious injuries as well," he added.
The blaze began on the first floor and spread rapidly throughout the five-floor walk-up on Prospect Avenue, with fire fighters on the scene within three minutes, department chief Daniel Nigro told reporters.