Three youngsters died Monday, apparently as a result of violence, at a home for handicapped children in this central Spanish city, while the person on duty at the time of the deaths has been taken into custody and is being treated for her injuries.

The caregiver, identified as a 55-year-old Uruguayan woman with the initials G.L.B., was taken to the detention unit at the Valladolid Clinical Hospital with cuts on her wrists and head.

The deputy delegate of the national government in Valladolid, Cecilio Vadillo, confirmed to Efe the deaths of the three children, ages 3, 9 and 14, at a Messengers of Peace center.

The home cares for children suffering from a loss of between 78 percent and 98 percent mobility.

Sources close to the investigation said that the three youngsters could die of asphyxia.

They also said they are studying the caretaker's possible involvement in the deaths, something that for now is only a hypothesis.

The president and founder of the Messengers of Peace Association, Father Angel Garcia, conjectured that the deaths of the three children could have resulted from a possible "act of madness."

The caregiver, whose duty was to look after the children at night, was found unconscious when day-shift employees arrived for work.

Never has the caregiver shown any signs of mental or emotional problems, Father Angel said.