Firefighters search wreckage of deadly Spain nightclub fire

AFP , Monday 2 Oct 2023

Firefighters on Monday searched the debris of a blaze that ripped through a packed Spanish nightclub complex over the weekend, killing at least 13 people and leaving two missing.

In this photo provided by Bomberos/ayuntamiento de Murcia, part of the burned-out interior a nightcl
In this photo provided by Bomberos/ayuntamiento de Murcia, part of the burned-out interior a nightclub which caught fire is pictured in Murcia, south-eastern Spain, Sunday Oct. 1, 2023. AP


It is not yet known what caused the fire, which broke out early on Sunday in a building housing the Teatre and Fonda Milagros discos on the outskirts of the southeastern city of Murcia.

Police initially identified 15 people as missing after the blaze but as of Monday morning there were only two people still unaccounted for, Murcia Mayor Jose Ballesta told Spanish public television.

"It is very unlikely that any other body will be found," he added.

Police said three of the victims had been identified by their fingerprints. The rest of the bodies will have to be identified using DNA samples from close relatives.

"Police are using all the means at their disposal so that the families can get this information as soon as possible," police spokesman Diego Seral told Spanish public television.

The fire spread from the upper storey of the two clubs, which were next to each other in the building, he added.

"The fatalities were all concentrated in a very small area in the Fonda establishment," Serral said.

Firefighters told Spanish media the temperature inside the nightclubs soared above 500 degrees Celsius (900 degrees Fahrenheit) as the blaze raged.

'We're going to die'

Police will have to wait 48 hours for the area to cool so that they can investigate what caused the blaze, Seral said.

There was a birthday party at the club (WHICH?) on Saturday night, he added.

A man named Jairo, who said he was the father of one of the victims, told reporters his 28-year-old daughter had been inside one of the clubs.

He had had no news of her since she left a desperate voice mail message at 6:06 am, he added.

"Mum, I love you. We're going to die. I love you mum," a young woman's voice could be heard crying on the recording, while in the background people shouted for someone to turn on the lights.

An information area for victims' relatives has been set up in the nearby sports hall, where a team of psychologists will be on hand to offer support.

Firefighters dispatched to the scene at 7:00 am were able to extinguish the fire by 8:00 am, Ballesta said.

More than 40 firefighters and 12 emergency vehicles attended the scene, authorities said.

Officials said four people, two women aged 22 and 25 years old and two men in their forties, were treated for smoke inhalation.

Video footage released by the Murcia fire brigade shows the firefighters holding a long hose approaching fierce flames inside the venue, passing bar tables that still had drinks on them.

Three days of mourning

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez voiced "solidarity with the victims and relatives of the tragic fire in a Murcia nightclub".

Spain's tennis superstar and this year's Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz, who comes from Murcia, wrote on X that he was "very affected by the terrible news".

The city's mayor announced three days of mourning and said a minute of silence will be observed at noon on Monday for the victims.

The city's bars and restaurants closed Sunday as a mark of respect for the victims, local hotel-restaurant association Hoytu said.

In 1990, 43 people died in a fire at a nightclub in Spain's northeastern city of Zaragoza.

Ans in 2017, 40 people were injured in a packed nightclub on Spain's holiday island of Tenerife when a floor collapsed.

They included people from several countries, including Belgium, Britain, France and Romania.

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