Seven siblings killed in New York fire


The Orthodox community in Brooklyn, New York, is in shock after seven siblings lost their lives in a fire.

Hundreds turned up to mourn at the funeral on Sunday.

It is believed that the fire started after a food-warming plate used for Shabbat malfunctioned.

The fire, which tore through a home in an area of Brooklyn where many Orthodox Jewish families live, was the deadliest in the city since 2007, fire department officials said.

Neighbours said they could hear the children, aged 5 to 16, calling for help and screaming in the early hours of Saturday night when the blaze - that originated in the ground-floor kitchen - trapped them in first-floor bedrooms.

They were alerted by 45-year-old Avigayil Sassoon, their mother, who managed to escape the inferno with one daughter, 15-year-old Tziporah, by leaping from a window.

Both were hospitalized in critical condition as of Sunday night.

The victims' father, Gabriel Sassoon, was away from home at a religious retreat at the time and only learned about the incident hours later as he was praying in a synagogue.

At the funeral service held on Sunday blocks away from the site of the tragedy, hundreds packed a narrow chapel where sounds of the attendees weeping and wailing filled the air.

As he looked down at the seven coffins, Mr Sassoon recalled each child for a defining trait -- Rivkah, 11, was joyful; Yeshua, 10, was creative; and spoke of his continued devotion to his faith.

"There's only one way to survive this," he said. "Surrender, that's it. We don't understand anything; our wishes are tiny compared to what Hashem has planned."

"Already the entire Jewish world is crying," said New York Rabbi David Ozeri at the funeral. "I received a phone call last night from a man from Haifa who said that they found out... that seven Jewish children died in America."

The siblings were to be flown to Israel immediately after the ceremony, where they were to be buried in Jerusalem.

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