15th April 2024
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10 dead after fire destroys residential high-rise in Valencia

#UPDATED at 14.30h on Saturday 24 February. 

The confirmed death toll from the fire that left two residential buildings charred in the city of Valencia rose to 10 on Saturday after authorities announced they had located the remains of what they believed was the last missing person.

Forensic police found the 10th victim inside the scorched building, national government delegate in Valencia Pilar Bernabé told journalists. Police will proceed with DNA testing to confirm the identities of all the victims, she said.

While there were no other missing persons reported, Bernabé stressed that police and firefighters would continue the ‘complex’ work of combing through the building debris in search of any other possible victim.

Original full report below:

Spanish firefighters were battling high winds to put out a huge fire that gutted a multi-storey apartment block in the city of Valencia on Thursday evening.

At least 14 people have been injured, including six firefighters, regional officials said, without providing details on the extent of the injuries. The emergency services earlier said seven people were lightly injured, mostly from smoke inhalation.

Latest reports at 10pm from emergency services said that of the 14 people injured, nine were male, aged between 25 and 57 years, four women aged 27-81 years, and a child of 7 years (see Tweet below).

Soldiers from Spain’s Military Emergency Unit (UME) also were deployed and medics set up a large tent to tend to the injured on the scene.

The fire began around 5.30pm on the fourth floor and rapidly spread, witnesses and the emergency services said, with images showing flames and vast clouds of black smoke engulfing the building in the Campanar neighbourhood in western Valencia.

Spain’s TVE public television said there were more than 130 flats in the 14-storey building, which was rapidly ‘reduced to a skeleton’, with 22 teams of firefighters battling the blaze.

Spanish media have reported that the fire spread rapidly because the building was covered with highly-inflammable polyurethane cladding.

In June 2017, a fire ripped through Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey high-rise in west London, killing 72 people, with the blaze spreading rapidly due to the highly combustible cladding on the block’s outside walls. A public inquiry into the disaster is still on-going.

One witness who lives in a nearby building in Valencia, told TVE that he had looked out of the window and saw the flames engulfing the block ‘within a matter of minutes’, saying it was ‘as if it was made of cork’.

‘I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The whole side of the building directly opposite was on fire, from the first floor to the sixth and seventh floor,’ he said. ‘There was a really strong wind and the fire was spreading to the left at a huge speed.’

Footage on social media which was reposted by Spanish media outlets showed a father and daughter being rescued from a balcony where they had been trapped.

Writing on X (formerly Twitter), Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said he was ‘shocked by the terrible fire’ and was in contact with the mayor of Valencia and the region’s leader ‘to offer whatever help needed’ and extending his condolences to everyone affected by the blaze.

In October last year, a fire gutted a nightclub in the neighbouring region of Murcia, claiming 13 lives in what was Spain’s deadliest nightclub fire in three decades. Six people have been charged as part of a manslaughter probe and could face up to nine years behind bars if the deaths were found to be the result of negligence.

We will be updating this report.

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