At Least 13 Have Died In Spain's Deadliest Nightclub Fire In Decades
At least 13 have died in Spain's deadliest nightclub fire in decades, with concerns that the death toll may still increase as emergency responders continue their search for additional victims. The fire's origin, which erupted early on a Sunday at the Teatre venue in the southeastern city of Murcia, remains unknown.
Among the casualties, four people sustained injuries: two women aged 22 and 25, and two men aged 41 and 45. All of them were hospitalized due to smoke inhalation, according to the Murcia emergency services website. As emergency services conducted their operations, survivors who had gathered outside the nightclub recounted the harrowing scene to reporters.
"I think we left (the club) 30 seconds to 1 minute before the alarms went off and all the lights went out with screams saying there was a fire. I was at a place at that time where I could get out, but five family members and two friends are missing," an unidentified survivor told reporters.
"We don't know anything, we are waiting for news to see whether some of our family members have come out alive," said another man at the scene.
Diego Seral, a spokesperson for the national police, informed reporters that the fire originated at the Fonda Milagros nightclub, one of the three interconnected clubs, and suffered the most significant damage.
During a press conference on Monday, local authorities disclosed that two of the three nightclubs had been ordered to close a year ago due to their lack of valid permits. Teatre, one of these clubs, had divided its operations into two sections and had applied for a special permit, which was ultimately denied. The closure order was issued in October 2022, according to local officials, who also mentioned that the city of Murcia intends to join a pending lawsuit against the club.
Antonio Navarro, the local official responsible for urban planning, indicated that it remains uncertain whether inspectors had recently conducted visits to ensure compliance with the closure order.
"We are going to hold anyone who might have been responsible to account," he told reporters.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez sent his condolences.
My love and solidarity with the victims and families of the tragic fire that occurred this morning in a nightclub in Murcia. I have just conveyed to the president of the Murcia region all our support and collaboration.- Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez
Emergency services were swiftly mobilized to the incident, and local firefighters requested helicopter assistance to combat the fire.
"The General Director of Security and Emergencies, Ricardo Villalba, is on-site coordinating with the Murcia City Council the necessary means to manage this tragedy," the emergency services said.
"The Vice President and Minister of the Interior, Emergencies and Territorial Planning, Jose Ángel Antelo, is expected to arrive at the site," they added.
In an Instagrampost, the nightclub characterized the incident as "tragic" and pledged full cooperation with authorities in their efforts to ascertain the cause of the fire.
The fire incident in Murcia represents the deadliest nightclub fire in Spain in 33 years. The last major nightclub fire, which occurred in 1990 at a nightclub in northeastern Zaragoza, resulted in the tragic loss of 43 lives.
In December 1983, Madrid witnessed a devastating nightclub blaze that claimed the lives of 81 individuals. Factors such as smoke, a malfunctioning lighting system, and a closed emergency door all contributed to that tragic disaster.
To honor the victims of the Teatre de Atalayas nightclub fire, the city of Murcia has declared three days of mourning, as announced by Mayor José Ballesta. Additionally, an information center for the families of the victims has been established in the nearby Palacio de los Deportes, where a team of psychologists will offer support and assistance.