Six people, including children, lost their lives overnight in an apartment fire in the northwestern Swiss city of Solothurn, Swiss public broadcaster RTS reported. Others among the 20 or so inhabitants were hospitalised.
The fire broke out shortly after 2am in one of the lower floors and quickly filled the building with smoke, according to initial findings by the cantonal police.
A resident noticed smoke in the stairwell ten minutes later and triggered an alarm.
Dozens of firefighters, the cantonal and city police, ambulances and care teams rushed to the scene.
"Many people were standing at the window screaming for help,” said Boris Anderegg, commander of the Solothurn fire brigade.
Upon arrival, the fire brigade's priority was to evacuate the residents trapped in their homes, while at the same time fighting the fire.
Rescue workers used ladders to evacuate residents from the four-storey building. But for six of them, it was already too late.
“It was a very dramatic operation,” the city’s fire brigade chief told Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA. “It was very stressful for everyone.”
At dawn, the fire brigade had taken control of the fire. Residents of neighbouring buildings who had also been evacuated were able to finish the night in their beds.
The victims have not yet been identified, according to cantonal police, which confirmed the fatalities included children. Both houses of parliament observed a minute of silence in homage to the victims of the fire.