Nine people, including eight children, all Syrian refugees, died when flames gutted an apartment in the northwestern Turkish province of Bursa late Tuesday.
The victims were identified as a mother and her six children and her two nephews who were staying at the apartment temporarily at the time of the fire. The cause of the fire is not clear but initial findings showed flames leaked from a stove inside the apartment and quickly spread across the small flat. Authorities said the victims died of smoke inhalation.
Firefighters rushed to the scene in the Yıldırım district of Bursa, only to discover the bodies inside once the flames were extinguished on the second floor of a four-story apartment building, mostly inhabited by Syrian refugees.
Speaking to reporters at the scene, Bursa Governor Yakup Canbolat said the father of the six children was outside and was also injured due to smoke inhalation while trying to save the victims. He said another family living on the upper floor was hospitalized but is in good health now.
The building, in a suburb surrounded by forests, was intact, with charred marks covering its facade.
Bursa Mayor Alinur Aktaş told reporters that the children who died in the fire were between the ages of 1 and 11. “They were likely sleeping at the time of the fire because it appears they could not escape quickly. Most of them were in their beds,” he said.
Authorities identified the mother as 31-year-old A.E.E. Her youngest son was aged 1 and her nephews were between the ages of 10 and 11. The children’s uncle who did not identify himself told Ihlas News Agency (IHA) that they were living in Türkiye since 2017 after fleeing the conflict in Syria’s Aleppo.
An investigation is underway to determine the exact cause of the fire.
Neighbors and relatives said the family moved to the building about one and a half months ago from another residence in Bursa. The fathers of children were returning from Istanbul at the time of the fire, after attending the funeral of a relative and the nephews were staying with them as their father joined their uncle for the funeral. Mehmet Kerem, a neighbor, said the family’s provider was making a living as a waste collector. “It is such a tragedy. We lost our family. They had lovely kids. May Allah bless their souls,” he told reporters at the scene.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.