Six people, including children, died when a fire broke out in an apartment building in the northwestern Swiss town of Solothurn overnight, local police said Monday.
"There were more than 20 people in the building. Most were evacuated by the fire brigade, but for six people, including children, the help came too late," Solothurn police said in a statement.
"They died on the spot."
An AFP photographer said all of the apartments in the building, in the centre of town, looked blackened by fire.
Many of those evacuated had been hospitalised, according to media reports.
Police said it remained unclear what had sparked the fire.
"A resident noticed smoke at 2:10 am (0110 GMT) in the stairwell and sounded the alarm," the statement said, adding that dozens of firefighters, along with police, ambulances and other rescue services were immediately dispatched to the building.
Speaking to the 20Minutes online news site, a neighbour said he had heard screams of people stuck in the building and had seen a child being resuscitated by emergency workers.
Another witness, who was evacuated from his apartment, said some of his neighbours had panicked.
According to the initial findings, the fire originated on one of the lower floors, allowing smoke to spread through the building.
The neighbouring building was also evacuated "as a precaution", police said, adding however that those residents were able to return homes before morning.
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