Fourth child dies in French care tragedy

A fourth child died in France on Wednesday days after falling into an unguarded pond along with four other children, who had been placed in temporary lodging by social services. Two boys, aged 3, 5 and girl, aged 8, died earlier this week.

Fourth child dies in French care tragedy
The scene of the tragic accident, which has now left four children dead. Photo:Miguel Medina/AFP

A fourth child of African origin has died following a weekend accident close to a hotel where they had been placed in emergency temporary accommodation by French social services, officials said on Wednesday.

The latest victim, a five-year-old boy, had been fighting for his life since Saturday, when five children fell into an unguarded pond near a cheap hotel in the suburbs of Paris where they had been lodged with their three single mothers.

Two boys, 3 and 5, and a girl, 8, died earlier this week. Local authorities believe one of the children fell into the water and the others went in after him or her but there were no witnesses to what happened.

The deaths are being investigated by a state prosecutor, as is routine in the case of any sudden death in France.

But there has so far been no announcement of an internal inquiry by social services into the conditions in which the children were lodged.

The prosecutor in charge of the investigation Eric Maurel said on Saturday that nobody had seen the children enter the water.

Police were called by a hotel employee who was alerted by another child.

Mickael Flour, who lives with his family in a caravan close to the pond, said children often played by the water.

"They like to throw sticks and stones," he told AFP. "We would often tell them, don't go down there, it's dangerous."

Another local, Sylviana Ternus, 29, added: "The children were often on their own, with no adult."

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