5 Oct, 2023 @ 13:30
1 min read

Police in Spain’s Murcia resort to DNA testing to identify victims of horrific nightclub fire

ITragic deaths in Murcia nightclub fire prompts licence checks across Spain
Tragic deaths in Murcia nightclub fire prompts licence checks across Spain

THE NATIONAL POLICE on Wednesday identified the last of the 13 victims who died in the horrific fire that ripped through two nightclubs in the city of Murcia in the early hours of Sunday morning. 

Such was the force of the blaze that only six of the people killed could be identified by their fingerprints. DNA testing had to be used in the remaining cases, according to Spanish press reports. 

All of the victims died in the Fonda Milagros nightclub, although the fire also affected the adjoining Teatre nightspot. 

The club was popular with Latin Americans, and in fact all of the people who died in the tragedy were from that community. 

Among the victims was Leidy Correa, a 28-year-old Colombian who managed to send a voice message to her mother as the flames engulfed the building. “Mummy, I love you,” she is heard to say in the recording, which was given to and broadcast by Spanish media. “We are going to die. Mummy, I love you.”

Meanwhile, the mayor of Murcia, Jose Ballesta of the conservative Popular Party (PP), has suspended the council workers who were involved in the process to close down the Fonda Milagros and remove its operating licence.

The aftermath of the nightclub fire.

This closure order arrived in January 2022, as part of a process that began when the company that ran the nightclub divided the building into two different establishments: La Fonda Milagros and the adjoining Teatre. 

The council rejected this change on the basis that a new licence would have to be issued, given the magnitude of the modification.

The closure order was appealed by the company but that appeal was rejected, prompting the council to execute the closure order in October 2022. 

On Monday of this week, however, a day after the fire, no one from the council could explain why no inspection had subsequently taken place to ensure that the nightclub had actually obeyed the closure order. 

Ballesta also ordered that a full investigation be opened into the tragedy earlier this week. 

It also emerged this week that the businessman behind the administration of the Teatre nightclub, Juan Ingles Rojo, was implicated in a fraud case in 2013 but was eventually absolved. 

He also manages another nightclub that also suffered a fire, as well as running several businesses that grant loans.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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