At least five people have died after a huge fire broke out in a 14-storey tower block in Buenos Aires in the early hours of Thursday morning.
The victims, two women and three minors, were evacuated from the blaze in the Recoleta neighbourhood alive but lost their lives after being taken to hospital for treatment, said Alberto Crescenti, the director of the City’s SAME (Sistema de Atención Médica de Emergencias) emergency services.
"There are five fatal victims, three minors and two adults, we don't know their ages," he said.
Unconfirmed reports in local outlets said that two of the children were aged three, while the third was eight.
At least 19 others were injured and seen by doctors at clinics across the capital, including four children and a pregnant woman, confirmed Crescenti, who said that 25 SAME ambulances had been deployed to assist victims.
Four or five of the victims were in “a serious condition,” he added, saying that healthcare professionals had made "a great effort to resuscitate patients."
The fire started in the early hours of Thursday morning on the seventh floor of a 14-storey building on Avenida Córdoba and Calle Ecuador, and quickly spread to the eighth floor, said deputy fire commander Pablo Giardina.
Firefighters stormed the building, rescuing several residents, including some that were trapped on balconies. Among those successfully evacuated were an elderly woman and several children.
Giardina sad that forklift units had been deployed to quench the flames.
One building resident told the TN news channel that she had heard an explosion “between 4am and 4.30am” and had heard “cries for help.”
The origin of the fire is unknown at the time of reporting.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday morning, Presidential Spokesperson Gabriela Cerruti expressed the government's condolences to the victims, while promising "full collaboration with everything that is necessary."
Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta did likewise, before praising the work of the firefighters and emergency services.
Highlighting their speedy response, he thanked those who had "risked their lives," and said he would update the media once an initial report over the source of the outbreak had been completed.