Five siblings all younger than 10 who were left home without an adult died in a fire at an apartment building in southwestern Illinois, officials said.
The fire was reported at a building at State and 29th streets in East St. Louis at about 3 a.m. Friday, East St. Louis Fire Chief Jason Blackmon said.
The children were from 2 to 9 years old and were siblings, Blackmon said. Their names were not released.
St. Clair County Coroner Calvin Dye said that four of the children were found dead inside the apartment and that the fifth child died at a hospital.
The children's mother had left to run an errand and returned to find the building on fire, officials said, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"The guys are taking it pretty hard," Assistant Fire Chief George McClellan told reporters of his firefighters.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.