By Daily Mail ReporterLast updated at 7:51 PM on 21st May 2008
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A seven-year-old girl has died of starvation after police found her and five other children in an emaciated state and living in squalor.
Khyra Ishaq died soon after she and her siblings, three boys and two girls, were rescued from their home and taken to hospital.
Police had been tipped off to their condition by neighbours who spotted them eating bread that had been left out for the birds.
Tragic: Khyra, 7, starved to death
A man and a woman, believed to be their mother and stepfather, appeared in court today charged with neglect and were remanded in custody.
Police swooped on the house in the Handsworth area of Birmingham on Saturday to find the severely ill girl in squalid conditions.
She was taken to hospital but pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
The five other children, who were lying on mattresses, were suffering from starvation and were also taken to Birmingham Children's Hospital.
A hospital spokeswoman refused to comment today, saying: "We cannot comment because of the criminal investigation."
A neighbour who lived near the family described seeing children at the home grabbing bread which had been thrown out for birds.
Post-mortem tests to confirm the cause of death are due to take place.
A statement by West Midlands Police said inquiries into the girl's death were continuing.
"Her cause of death has not been confirmed at this stage," it added.
A Birmingham City Council spokesperson 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 their investigation."
The door and ground floor windows of the house at the centre of the inquiry in Leyton Road were covered with metal shutters today.
Neighbours claimed the children's mother had recently converted to Islam and that she had split up from her children's father several years ago.
Starving: Khyra Ishaq, 7, was rescued by police from this terrace in Birmingham but died of starvation shortly afterwards
Lilian Costello said she had known her well and used to speak to her almost every day until December but had not seen the children for months.
She 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 alright. 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 residents in the street were visibly shocked when told of the charges which have been brought against their former neighbours.
Sales worker Amarjit Ram said: "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, added: "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 after the raid on Saturday and described an ambulance arriving in the middle of the night.
Other neighbours told ITV that three of the children were seen in recent months looking "extremely thin".
All six children were taken to Birmingham Children's Hospital, above. A man and a woman have been arrested and remanded in custody.
Mohammed Khalil, who lived nearby, said he used to see some of the children in their uniforms on their way to the nearby Grove School but that he had not seen them for months.
"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."
Parents collecting children from the primary school tonight were handed a letter informing them of Khyra's death.
Signed by the school's headteacher, Pamela Matty, it read: "Dear Parents, We have been informed by the police that a child in Handsworth has died.
"As a mark of respect for the family and the community, we are postponing tonight's music concert to a future date."
Police wearing protective forensic suits had been seen removing furniture and carpets from the house over the weekend.