Europe

Four Roma children die in Rome, Italy fire

Women mourn the deaths of four children at a Roma camp on the outskirts of Rome, Italy
Image caption The fire broke out late on Sunday night at the camp on the outskirts of the Italian capital

Four Roma, or Gypsy, children aged between four and 11 have been killed in a fire as they slept at their makeshift camp on the edge of Rome.

The fire swept the hut on Sunday in a wooded area off a main road leading out of the Italian capital.

The city's mayor, Giovanni Alemanno, denounced the "bureaucratic obstacles" he said had delayed the dismantling of the illegal camp.

Some 150,000 Roma live in Italy, with a reported 100 camps in Rome province.

"We cannot accept that people continue to live in plastic huts when all it takes is a piece of hot ash falling in the wrong place to transform them into open-air ovens," Mr Alemanno said, according to Italy's La Repubblica newspaper.

'Terrified'

Three boys and a girl died in the fire which happened when their parents went to buy food and their aunt was getting water, the paper said. The exact cause of the fire is unknown.

Relatives have asked for the children's remains to be returned to Romania for burial.

"I saw the fire suddenly take hold," Silvia, one of the 20 Roma living in the camp, said.

"Like everyone else, I'm terrified of living in this hut - anyone could come in and even kill us."

City authorities last year said they would close the illegal camps and continue to build "villages" where members of the Roma community would be able to live safely, but for a maximum of four years, the newspaper reports.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites