PARAMARIBO--Five little children died in two separate house fires in Paramaribo on Tuesday, catapulting the country into a state of disbelief and shock. It appeared that in both incidents the toddlers were home alone when the fires broke out.

  The first blaze happened just before daybreak in the Pontbuiten neighbourhood; there two-year-old Delvano Eind perished.

  The second fire happened within two hours of the first, in the Ramgoelam area in southern Paramaribo, at just about 10 kilometres’ distance from the other fire. Reports are that there, four children had also been left home alone. Neighbours had tried to break into the house and rescue the terrified children, but to no avail. By midday when the fire had been extinguished, the four little charred bodies Tushero van Hetten (6), twins Jayden and Djalia van Hetten (2) and Trishon van Hetten (1.5) were pulled from the rubble.

  Police say their mother had left the children in the care of their 15-year-old aunt D.B., who often looked after them. B. was not at home when the fire broke out and has not yet been found. The fifth child, a baby, only survived because B. had left it with a neighbour and not at home with its siblings.

  “My parent’s house is on fire,” Dutch actor Maikel van Hetten wrote on Facebook, obviously distraught. “Four little nephews are dead. All the memories of home are gone.”

  It is not clear what sparked the fires.