A father and his five young children are believed to have been killed after a fire tore through a farmhouse in Wales.
The children, aged between four and 11, and their father are thought to have died in the blaze at the home in rural Powys.
Three other children, aged 13, 12 and 10, managed to escape from the burning building on Poityn Farm after a neighbour raised the alarm shortly after midnight on Monday.
The man has been named locally as David Cuthbertson, who was thought to be in his 60s, and neighbours said he “doted” on the children.
Blaze: The missing roof from a property in Llangammarch Wells, Powys, after several members of a family are feared dead (PA)
Dyfed-Powys Police said the cause of the “tragic” fire remained “unexplained” and is under investigation.
Superintendent Jon Cummins said: “Based on current information available to us, we are working on the hypothesis that one adult male and five children, aged between four and 11 years old, are unaccounted for and believed to be deceased within the house.
“Due to the severity of damage at the scene we are unable at this stage to identify any of the deceased.
‘Unexplained’: A police search dogs van drives towards the scene as they continue to investigate the fire (PA)
“Specialist scientists and fire investigators continue to assess the scene, which is very complex and perilous.
“The 13, 12 and 10-year-old children that managed to escape remain in hospital. None are in a life-threatening condition, and they are being supported by specialist officers and family.”
He went on to say that officers are supporting the family, who “have asked that their privacy is respected at this extremely difficult and traumatic time”.
Tragic: Tributes left at the entrance to the track leading to the house that burned (Aled Llywelyn/Athena Pictures)
“They would also like to thank friends and locals for their support, sympathies and all kindness shown to them,” he added.
Flowers and tributes have been left near the scene of the devastating blaze and a fundraising page on the JustGiving website has received donations totalling over £5,000.
Family friend Barry Smith wrote on Facebook: “The devastating news of the fire in Llangammarch Wells, I knew Dave for around 14 yrs… I can’t & won’t get over it….rest in peace Dave & all the little ones that died with you.”
Neighbour Ron Birchall, 73, who lives at the former Aberceiros Inn in the village, said: “He (Mr Cuthbertson) was a great guy.
Tributes: Flowers left close to the scene (PA)
“All I can say is that he was a great father who loved his kids and doted on them.”
Mr Birchall said he and his wife Rosemary knew nothing about the incident until they woke up in the morning – even though around 20 emergency vehicles had parked at the pub.
“The village is devastated. We didn’t realise anything had happened in the early hours and we didn’t know anything until we got up at 6am,” he said.
Neighbours said that Mr Cuthbertson was separated from his partner who had moved away after suffering a stroke. They said Mr Cuthbertson, who lived in the area for decades, had around 17 children.
County Councillor Tim Van-Rees, who represents the area, spoke of the community’s shock at the devastating loss of life.
“It is absolutely shocking and a devastating blow and it is possibly just as well we are in half-term at the moment because the effect on our children and the schools would have been very severe.”