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Ten children abandoned in squalid Atlantic City house

January 24, 1997

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Ten children were found living in a squalid crack house without water, electricity or heat, and there were no signs that an adult lived with them, authorities said today.

``It’s horrible,″ said Garry Alston, the city’s chief code enforcement officer. ``As soon as you hit the top of the steps, all you could smell was crack.″

The children, aged 1 to 16, were found Thursday when a neighbor reported that the house reeked of kerosene.

The children were taken to Atlantic City Medical Center for evaluation, and their conditions weren’t available today. The relationships of the children were unclear; some said they were from Trenton, Camden or Philadelphia.

``The younger ones weren’t ready to talk to us. The ones that were talking were getting smacked by their 11-year-old brother for talking to us, telling them to shut up,″ code enforcement officer Hugh Gallagher said today.

They were bringing buckets of water in to use in a toilet, Gallagher said. It wasn’t clear how they were bathing. They did not smell as if they had been without baths for weeks, he said.

A pair of bedspreads served as the back door in the two-story frame structure, which had soggy floor boards.

The 1-year-old was living in makeshift crib on a bed, Gallagher said.

Raw sewage had backed up from a toilet and overflowed into the back yard, and two dogs that the children kept as pets had defecated throughout the upstairs.

An aunt of at least one of the children lived down the street and was checking on them from time to time, but no adults were staying at the house, Gallagher said.

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