A British woman was under arrest last night after her two children, aged one and five, were found dead in a hotel room in Spain.
Police and an ambulance were called to the four-star Hotel Miramar in the Costa Brava resort of Lloret de Mar after the woman had apparently phoned the reception desk at about 2pm local time to ask for the emergency services. Paramedics were unable to revive the children, a baby boy and a young girl, after they were found in a bedroom of the glass-fronted hotel with their mother.
It is understood the woman had arrived by car at the hotel, some 50 miles north of Barcelona, with the children on Monday but was not accompanied by a partner. The Spanish and British authorities were last night trying to trace the father of the children.
Reports from Spain quoted Catalan police as saying that the mother had confessed to killing the children but detectives later said only that the woman had been detained for questioning in connection with the tragedy. Neither the identity of the mother nor that of her offspring was released.
It is understood that the woman spent a number of the minutes in the hotel room yesterday evening during a "reconstruction" in the presence of police and an investigating magistrate.
TVE, the main Spanish broadcaster, quoted a source close to the investigation saying there were no obvious signs of violence on the bodies of the children and that a post mortem examination, due to be carried out today, would establish whether they had been suffocated. Photographs showed the mother, apparently wearing a white forensic suit, being escorted to a car by detectives outside the hotel.
In a statement, the regional Girona police, who described the mother as "a suspect", said: "When the officers arrived at the scene they found two children inside a room at a hotel.
"Girona police are investigating the death of the two children. The police have detained the mother to find out what happened."
The British embassy in Madrid said the mother had been on holiday in Spain with her children. She is expected to be questioned further today.
The seven-storey hotel, which has 54 rooms, is on the beachfront of Lloret de Mar, a former fishing village which has grown to be one of the most popular resorts on the Costa Brava, in particular with British holidaymakers.