FIREFIGHTERS have discovered the bodies of seven people killed when fire ripped through a disco in Murcia in southern Spain this morning during a birthday celebration.
And as the emergency services carry out the grim task of sifting through the charred wreckage of the Teatro nightclub in the Atalayas district they are fearful of finding more victims as eight people from the 20-strong birthday party are still unaccounted for.
The blaze started at 6am this morning (Sunday October 1). Firefighters rushed to the scene to be confronted with a blaze so serious it took 40 personnel and 12 fire appliances several hours to smother the flames.
Local Police cordoned off the area and closed the nearby old road to Alicante. Medics initially reported that four people had suffered smoke inhalation injuries – two women aged 22 and 25 and two men aged 41 and 45.
When firefighters finally extinguished the flames they found seven bodies in the remains of the club.
The Vice President of Murcia region and Minister of Emergencies, José Ángel Antelo, was on the scene.
According to newspaper La Opinión de Murcia, an initial theory is that the fire started due to a short circuit in the disco lights before spreading rapidly.
The roof started to collapse and completely caved in about an hour later as firefighters battled to control the flames.
The nearby Palacio de los Deportes de Murcia sports arena has been used to provide a base to emergency workers and as an information and help point for families and friends of the victims.
Murcia City Council has declared three days of official mourning in the city and the entire municipal agenda has been suspended for this Sunday.