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Father of flat death children tells of 'tragic loss'

image captionLuke, Cecilia and Austin were found dead in the property at Edinburgh's Slateford Road

The father of three children found dead at a flat in Edinburgh has told of the family's "immense and tragic loss".

Pasquale Riggi made his statement as post-mortem examinations got under way on eight-year-old twins, Austin and Luke, and Cecilia, aged five.

Police, who are treating the deaths as suspicious, are still waiting to speak to their mother, Theresa Riggi, 46.

She is in hospital after falling from the balcony of the Slateford Road property where the children were found.

They were discovered on Wednesday afternoon after reports of a gas explosion at the property.

However, it is understood that the children did not die as a result of the explosion or a small fire in the flat.

In a short statement issued through Lothian and Borders police, Mr Riggi, aged 46, said: "Our family is struggling to come to terms with the immense and tragic loss of three beautiful children.

"Thanks to all who have offered such great comfort and support.

"We request that the media respect our privacy at this difficult time."

The youngsters were at the centre of a custody battle involving their US-born parents.

A judge warned that they could be in danger just 24 hours before they were found dead.

Judge Lady Clark raised concerns about their welfare after their mother failed to appear before a divorce hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

Court proceedings

It was the second time the family had gone missing in the past month.

Police said Mrs Riggi and the children were traced to the Edinburgh address on 21 July after they were reported missing from their home in the Aberdeen area.

image captionMrs Riggi is in a serious but stable condition at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

When Mrs Riggi failed to appear at court on Tuesday, the judge ordered the court's Messengers at Arms to search for her.

Social services were instructed to supervise the children once they were found and to apply to a local sheriff in relation to their protection if they thought it necessary.

Edinburgh City Council said it was contacted by lawyers on Wednesday regarding the recent court proceedings.

It was about the same time that the authority was told about the incident at Slateford Road.

Lothian and Borders Police had also issued a statement denying that they were notified of concerns about the children's welfare the day before they were found dead.

The force said its investigation into the deaths was progressing to a "significant degree".

The family came from California and Colorado and Mr Riggi has worked for oil firm Shell since 1987.

He had been in Aberdeen for a number of years.

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