Ten killed as fire engulfs residential buildings in Spain’s Valencia

At least 14 people are missing and others injured after a massive fire engulfed two residential buildings.

A huge fire rages through a multi-storey residential block in Valencia, on February 22, 2024 [Jordan/AFP]

At least 10 people have died and several others are injured or missing after a fire ripped through two residential buildings in the eastern Spanish port city of Valencia.

The blaze appeared to have started in a 14-storey apartment block on the outskirts of the city centre on Thursday evening and later spread to an adjacent building, engulfing both in flames that sent large plumes of smoke billowing to the sky.

Valencia’s mayor and the region’s administrator said on Friday that the death toll had risen from four to 10.

“We can confirm that following a first inspection, forensic police have found 10 fatalities,” Pilar Bernabe, the government representative for the region of Valencia, told reporters.

Mayor Maria Jose Catala confirmed the death toll and said 15 people were injured, six of them firefighters.

Five of the injured were still being treated in city hospitals, but were said to be in stable condition. The injuries were reportedly caused by fractures, burns and smoke inhalation.

Firefighters and scientific police began inspecting the interior of the residential towers on Friday, with rescue crews searching for at least 14 people who were missing.

But Catala said that the danger of the 14-storey building collapsing and the intense heat from the fire initially prevented emergency workers from getting in to search for possible survivors.

Firefighters work at the scene of a blaze at an apartment building in Valencia, Spain, on February 22, 2024 [Eva Manez/Reuters]

It was not immediately clear how many people were inside the two buildings or how many were rescued.

It was “a building with many flats, flats in which there were people of foreign nationality, whose location is more difficult to pinpoint”, said Bernabe.

The fire sent the residents of the buildings onto balconies, where some were rescued by firefighters who rushed to the scene and used a crane for the operation.

Spain’s Military Emergency Unit also reportedly sent soldiers to the site to aid with the rescue operation and its medics set up a large tent to tend to the injured.

Reports have indicated the fire may have spread rapidly due to materials used in the building’s structure, but no official cause has been announced yet.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez posted on X that he was “dismayed by the terrible fire in a building in Valencia” and that he had spoken to other authorities to offer necessary help.

“I want to convey my solidarity to all the people affected and recognition to all the emergency personnel already deployed at the scene,” he said.

Visiting the scene on Friday, Sanchez said residents “had lost everything in a matter of minutes in this terrible fire”.

In the wake of the tragedy, Valencia decreed three days of mourning and suspended the start of a month-long annual festival.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies