A seven-year-old girl allegedly neglected by her parents died of starvation in Birmingham, it has been revealed.
Khyra Ishaq, from Handsworth, was rushed to the city's Children's Hospital on Saturday, where she died.
Angela Gordon, 33, and Junaid Abuhamza, 29 - believed to be the girl's mother and stepfather - have appeared in court charged with causing or allowing Khyra's death through neglect.
Sources claimed the girl died because of a lack of food, although West Midlands Police refused to confirm starvation was the cause of death.
In a statement, the force said: "We can confirm that a seven-year-old girl was taken to hospital on Saturday 17 May, where she was pronounced dead
"Police are conducting inquiries and a man aged 29 and a woman aged 33 have been charged with neglect and appeared before Birmingham Magistrates on May 19. They have been remanded to appear again on 28 May."
Earlier, it was reported that police were called to the house in Leyton Road in the early hours of Saturday because a young girl had problems with her breathing. Officers found six children on mattresses on the floor. The seven-year-old girl was critically ill and the five others were emaciated, reports said.
The children were taken to Birmingham Children's Hospital but the girl died. The others are still being treated. The sister of Khyra's natural father was informed of her niece's death by reporters when she arrived at the family's address.
Valerie Frances said she did not know the whereabouts of her brother or whether he knew his daughter had died. She said she was unaware of claims that her brother, originally called Delroy Frances, had changed his name to Abu Zaire Ishaq.
Miss Frances, who was carrying a young child, told reporters she had not seen her six nieces and nephews since the beginning of last year.
"When I saw them last, they were in perfect health," she said. "I am very unhappy about the way I have found this out. The family should have been told in a proper way."
A Birmingham City Council spokesman said: "We are deeply saddened by the death of this child and our sympathies go to the child's family and friends at this difficult time.
"This death is now the subject of a police inquiry and Birmingham City Council are fully supporting the investigation."
The door and ground-floor windows of the house at the centre of the inquiry were covered with metal shutters. Residents in the street were visibly shocked when told of the charges which have been brought against their former neighbours.
Sales worker Amarjit Ram told reporters: "I am just shocked to be honest - the mother looked fine to me. I would see them in the street and I think they had lived there for a couple of years."
One neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: "We would never expect something like this. We knew they were going through some trouble about a year ago.
"Before that we used to see the children and they looked happy and normal, but after that we didn't see them. They seemed like normal, happy kids, but then they disappeared. The house wasn't very well kept. It's not the cleanest of places.
"We only live a few doors down. It's shocking."
He said police had been outside the house for up to four days and described an ambulance arriving in the middle of the night.
Another neighbour, Mohammed Khalil, said he used to see some of the children in their uniforms on their way to Grove School in Handsworth. But he said he had not seen them for many months. He said there were around six children in the family.
"The children's father, he didn't live there. He was living there but then he moved out," he said. "I think there was another man living there. I saw him a couple of times."
A spokesman for the school refused to comment.
One neighbour in Leyton Road said she had not seen Khyra or her five siblings for more than three months between Christmas Eve and early May. Lilian Costello said she had known the children's mother and up until Christmas Eve had spoken to her practically every day.
Ms Costello said: "I saw her on Christmas Eve and I wished her a merry Christmas but she said she didn't celebrate it, she celebrated Eid. I didn't see her for another four months after that and when I saw her again at the beginning of May, she said she still lived up the road.
"I asked how the children were and she said they were all right."
The neighbour added: "She seemed very devoted to the children and I am very surprised. She used to let the children come out to play with the other children and she always stood at the front of the house watching them.
"There were three boys and three girls and they were a nice bunch of kids, very well-mannered. It's just so sad knowing that one of them has died."
Other neighbours claimed Ms Gordon had converted to Islam and that she had split up several years ago with her children's natural father. Another neighbour also told the media that the woman who lived at the house had appeared to be a good mother.
"I can't say anything against her from what I have seen," the woman said. Other residents told how they had seen police wearing protective forensic suits removing furniture and carpets from the family's home over the weekend.
A friend of Khyra's family, who declined to be named, said she had seen the girl in the past fortnight and she did not appear to be malnourished. The woman also claimed that Khyra and some or all of her siblings had been taken out of school by their mother in mid-March after they were bullied by other children, apparently because they wore items of Muslim dress.
The family friend said: "Khyra was a happy girl. I saw her with her mum about nine or 10 days ago, she looked normal. She was a very slim girl and did not look underweight."
It is believed that Ms Gordon converted to Islam when she was a child after her mother decided to take up the religion.
Meanwhile, parents collecting children from the nearby Grove Primary School were handed a letter informing them of the child's death.
The letter, signed by the school's headteacher, Pamela Matty, read: "Dear Parents, We have been informed by the police that a child in Handsworth has died."
It concluded: "As a mark of respect for the family and the community, we are postponing tonight's music concert to a future date."