More than a dozen people were killed in a fiery blaze that erupted inside one of several adjoining nightclubs in the southeastern Spanish city of Murcia early Sunday morning.
Mayor José Ballesta wrote on X that 13 people had died in the fire, amending earlier reports as more victims were located amid the smoky ruin.
⚫️Lamentamos comunicar que los fallecidos en el incendio de Atalayas ascienden a 13 personas.— José Ballesta (@Ballesta_Murcia) October 1, 2023
Los servicios de emergencias continúan trabajando en la zona.
The fire broke out in the early hours Sunday at the Fonda nightclub in the city’s Atalayas district, the southeastern city’s emergency services said.
The blaze then spread next door to the Teatre nightclub, a spokesperson for the club said. It also spread to a third adjoining nightclub.
The victims were found in the Fonda nightclub, which sustained the majority of damage, including a collapsed roof, according to Diego Seral, Spain’s National Police spokesman.
The collapsed roof at the club had complicated recovery efforts for first responders, officials said.
Videos posted online showed thick, dark smoke pouring out of the nightclub’s windows as firefighters worked against vibrant orange flames in the dark.
Ballesta told reporters that seven bodies were found on the first floor, where the fire broke out.
About 40 firefighters and 12 firetrucks were sent to work at the scene, the rescue service wrote online.
Emergency services continued to work in the area, Ballesta said at about 2 p.m. local time, hours after the blaze first broke out at about 6 a.m.
According to Spanish media, several birthday celebrations were being held at the clubs overnight.
“I think we left 30 seconds to 1 minute before the alarms went off and all the lights went out (and) the screams saying there was a fire,” one survivor, who was not identified, told Reuters.
“Five family members and two friends are missing.”
Ballesta has decreed three days of mourning in Murcia. Flags were lowered to half-mast outside Murcia’s City Hall.
“We are devastated,” Ballesta said on Spanish TV channel 24h, adding rescuers were still searching for several people reported missing.
Four people have been treated in hospital for smoke inhalation.
The cause of the fire was not immediately clear.