Death toll in Spain apartment block fire rises to 10

Residents in Valencia hold minute's silence in remembrance of victims

A woman lays flowers near the apartment block in Valencia, Spain, where at least 10 people died in a fire. EPA
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The victims of a huge fire that ripped through an apartment block in the Spanish city of Valencia were mourned on Saturday as authorities said the death toll had risen to 10.

The blaze, fanned by strong winds, broke out on Thursday evening in the affluent El Campanar district.

Police had revised the number of dead to nine from 10 on Friday in the process of identifying the bodies in the building, but confirmed a 10th fatal victim had been found on Saturday.

At midday on Saturday hundreds of people gathered outside Valencia's City Hall for a moment of silence as flags flew at half-mast.

The fire had spread rapidly through the 14-storey tower containing 138 flats.

Fifteen people, including a seven-year-old child and seven firefighters, were treated for injuries of varying degrees but their lives were not in danger.

About 100 survivors were housed in hotels on Friday night.

“It was just horrifying. I live in that neighbourhood and it was very close, I saw the whole thing from the street,” said 60-year-old Concha Lopez, speaking outside the city hall on Saturday, her voice breaking as she wiped away tears.

“These people have lost everything.”

At the city's San Miguel y San Sebastian church, Catholic priest Juan Andres Talens said people had been praying for those affected.

“We are mourning,” Father Talens said as a mass took place inside the historic church.

Faustino Yanguas, of the Valencia fire brigade, said the cladding material used on the facade of the building would have to be investigated.

It was, he said, “a factor that contributed a lot” to the lightning spread of the flames – as were the strong winds, with gusts of up to 60kph (37mph) at the time the blaze broke out.

The fears that polyurethane cladding might have exacerbated the Valencia fire recalled the 2017 tragedy at London's Grenfell Tower, when 72 people died when the 24-storey high-rise caught fire.

Updated: February 24, 2024, 4:17 PM