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Valencia fire: Firefighters expect to find 19 more bodies when they enter Spanish block of flats ravaged by blaze in Grenfell Tower-like disaster after four victims were killed on their balconies before they could be rescued


Firefighters expect to find 19 more bodies when they today enter a Spanish apartment block gutted by fire in a Grenfell Tower-like disaster, with officials admitting that nobody trapped inside is thought to be alive.

Crews have been unable to enter the twin multi-storey towers that form part of the building since the devastating blaze broke out just before 5.30pm yesterday and tore through inflammable cladding blamed along with high winds for its rapid spread.

The official death toll stands at four based on the number of bodies spotted on balconies by a drone put up by emergency responders late yesterday.

But 19 people who lived in the building in Valencia, home to 138 flats and more than 400 residents, remain unaccounted for and have been declared missing.

Firefighters have admitted they do not expect to find anyone trapped by the flames inside the building alive, raising fears the final death toll could be over 20.

Firefighters expect to find 19 more bodies when they today enter a Spanish apartment block gutted by fire (pictured last night) in a Grenfell Tower-like disaster

Firefighters expect to find 19 more bodies when they today enter a Spanish apartment block gutted by fire (pictured last night) in a Grenfell Tower-like disaster

Dramatic video shows the moment residents trapped in a tower block inferno in Spain were rescued from their balcony last night, as flames closed in around them. Crews have been unable to enter the twin multi-storey towers that form part of the building since the devastating blaze broke out just before 5.30pm yesterday

Dramatic video shows the moment residents trapped in a tower block inferno in Spain were rescued from their balcony last night, as flames closed in around them. Crews have been unable to enter the twin multi-storey towers that form part of the building since the devastating blaze broke out just before 5.30pm yesterday

Dramatic footage shows a man jumping several floors onto an inflatable mat to escape the raging fire, while other homeowners were seen awaiting rescue on their terraces as the flames closed in around them

Dramatic footage shows a man jumping several floors onto an inflatable mat to escape the raging fire, while other homeowners were seen awaiting rescue on their terraces as the flames closed in around them

More dramatic footage from the scene shows a man jumping several floors onto an inflatable mat to escape the raging fire, while other homeowners were seen awaiting rescue on their terraces as the flames closed in around them

Flaming debris come crashing down around firefighters as they have been working to extinguish the inferno that began at around 5.30pm on Thursday

Flaming debris come crashing down around firefighters as they have been working to extinguish the inferno that began at around 5.30pm on Thursday

Firefighters on cherry pickers work to put out the flames in the building in Valencia last night. The official death toll stands at four based on the number of bodies spotted on balconies by a drone put up by emergency responders late yesterday

Firefighters on cherry pickers work to put out the flames in the building in Valencia last night. The official death toll stands at four based on the number of bodies spotted on balconies by a drone put up by emergency responders late yesterday

Firefighters work at the site during the building fire on February 22, 2024

Firefighters work at the site during the building fire on February 22, 2024

Firefighters work at the site during the building fire in Valnecia on February 22, 2024

Residents were trapped on their balconies - just metres from the flames - as they waited for firefighters to rescue them from the inferno

Residents were trapped on their balconies – just metres from the flames – as they waited for firefighters to rescue them from the inferno

The apartment block in Valencia caught fire at around 5.30pm on Thursday. The fire continued to rage on into the early hours of Friday morning, leaving a 'skeleton' of a building behind

The apartment block in Valencia caught fire at around 5.30pm on Thursday. The fire continued to rage on into the early hours of Friday morning, leaving a ‘skeleton’ of a building behind

Building manager and resident Adriana reacts at the scene of a fire of apartment building in Valencia last night

Building manager and resident Adriana reacts at the scene of a fire of apartment building in Valencia last night

Twelve of the 14 people injured, nine men aged 25 and 57, four women aged between 27 and 81, and a seven-year-old boy, remained in hospital overnight.

The death toll is expected to rise rapidly once firefighters have cooled down the outside of the building and can safely go inside once the risk of a structural collapse has been ruled out.

As the sun rose over the coastal city and crews prepared to go in, more details began to emerge this morning of the miracle rescue of a couple trapped on the seventh-floor in images that went around the world.

With flames closing in, the man and woman were trapped on their balcony for almost two hours before being plucked to safety by firefighters in cherry pickers.

They covered their faces with scarves and woolly hats to protect themselves from the flames, smoke and intense heat.

At one point they were even filmed trying to jump over a partition wall separating their balcony from their neighbour’s terrace before being dissuaded by the fire crews trying to reach them who focused on dousing the outside of their flat with water to try to keep the flames away and make reaching them possible.

The couple were heard shouting for help as their rescuers tried to calm them down and darkness descended on the area.

They were plucked to safety around 8pm, with onlookers fearing a fatal outcome cheering as they were brought to the ground.

They received emergency medical attention following their rescue but are not thought to have needed hospital treatment.

Their whereabouts this morning was unknown. Other survivors are being put up in hotels or staying with family and friends.

Other dramatic footage shows a man jumping several floors onto an inflatable mat to escape the raging fire, while other homeowners were seen awaiting rescue on their terraces as the flames closed in around them. 

A huge fire rages through a multistorey residential block in Valencia on February 22, 2024

A huge fire rages through a multistorey residential block in Valencia on February 22, 2024

Firefighters work at the site during the building fire on February 22, 2024 in Valencia

Firefighters work at the site during the building fire on February 22, 2024 in Valencia

Police officers work at the scene of a fire of the apartment building in Valencia, February 22

Police officers work at the scene of a fire of the apartment building in Valencia, February 22

Firefighters work at the scene of a fire of apartment building in Valencia, February 22, 2024

Firefighters work at the scene of a fire of apartment building in Valencia, February 22, 2024

The fire raged late into Thursday night and left the building as little more than a shell

The fire raged late into Thursday night and left the building as little more than a shell

Firefighters worked through the night to put out the huge inferno, which left the building completely gutted

Firefighters worked through the night to put out the huge inferno, which left the building completely gutted

The tower block before the fire. Construction began on the building in 2005 and it was completed around 2009

The tower block before the fire. Construction began on the building in 2005 and it was completed around 2009

The site of the tower block fire in the Campanar area of Valencia on Avenida Maestro Rodrigo, at the junction with General Aviles

The site of the tower block fire in the Campanar area of Valencia on Avenida Maestro Rodrigo, at the junction with General Aviles

In June 2017, a fire ripped through Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey high-rise in west London, killing 72 people

In June 2017, a fire ripped through Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey high-rise in west London, killing 72 people

Devastated residents evacuated from the burning apartment building watch on helplessly as the fire continued to rage on

Devastated residents evacuated from the burning apartment building watch on helplessly as the fire continued to rage on

The blaze, Valencia’s worst-ever fire, is thought to have started on an eighth-floor.

The probe into the cause will begin once firefighters and police can enter the building but is already being linked to a possible electrical fault.

Residents who managed to make it out alive said last night the fire had spread through the entire two residential towers affected in the 30 minutes after the first flames were detected.

A woman called Maite, who lives opposite the apartment block, told local press: ‘I saw people being burnt and shouting for help from balconies, a couple and a child. I’m feeling devastated.

‘I left my home and went down into the street in case the flames jumped to our building. I just grabbed hold of my handbag, nothing else.’

Valencia City Hall has declared three days of mourning.

Speaking late last night after a drone put up by firefighters sighted four bodies and it was ascertained the blaze had caused fatalities, Jorge Suarez, sub-director of emergencies for the regional Valencian government, said: ‘We have to confirm the worst of the hypotheses that were on the table.

‘Four people have died. We can now confirm that but we can’t give out any more information at the moment.

‘Firefighters are still working exclusively outside the building on tasks related to extinguishing the blaze.

‘The characteristics of the building make it impossible to carry out any such work inside the structure so the work being done at the moment is focused on cooling down the outside and that’s going to be the focus over the next few hours.

‘I can’t say at the moment when they’re going to be able to go inside the building.’

Firefighters work at the burned-out block building in Valencia this morning

Firefighters work at the burned-out block building in Valencia this morning

Fire crews have been unable to enter the building so far amid fears of structural damage

Fire crews have been unable to enter the building so far amid fears of structural damage 

Firefighters are seen working at the burned building in Valencia, Spain this morning as they prepare to enter to search for victims of the huge blaze

Firefighters are seen working at the burned building in Valencia, Spain this morning as they prepare to enter to search for victims of the huge blaze

Firefighters are seen working at the burned building in Valencia, Spain this morning as they prepare to enter to search for victims of the huge blaze

The official death toll stands at four based on the number of bodies spotted on balconies by a drone put up by emergency responders late yesterday

The official death toll stands at four based on the number of bodies spotted on balconies by a drone put up by emergency responders late yesterday

19 people who lived in the building in Valencia, home to 138 flats and more than 400 residents, remain unaccounted for and have been declared missing

19 people who lived in the building in Valencia, home to 138 flats and more than 400 residents, remain unaccounted for and have been declared missing

Construction began on the building in 2005 and it was completed around 2009, with the construction company boasting at the time that it was built with ‘the highest quality materials’.

More than 20 fire crews were involved in tackling last night’s blaze, with their efforts being hampered by the wind and soaring temperatures of the fire.

Witnesses said that firefighters managed to rescue several people, including a father and daughter, teenage boy and a couple, from their balconies.

Speaking to EFE, Esther Puchades, who is deputy head of Valencia’s Industrial Engineers Association (COGITI), blamed the building’s cladding for the fire’s ferocity and said that the tragedy may mark ‘a turning point’ in Spain.

Images recalled the London disaster in June 2017 when a fire ripped through Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey high-rise in the west of the British capital, killing 72 people.

The blaze spread rapidly due to the highly combustible cladding on the block’s outside walls. A public inquiry into the disaster is still ongoing.

Speaking to Valencian TV on Thursday, Puchades explained that when construction began on the now destroyed building, ‘the bad reputation of polyurethane was not so widespread’ as it is now, in the wake of Grenfell and other disasters around the world.

‘Today it is not used, at least not in that way,’ she added, referring to increased safety measures around its usage in Spain.

Firefighters attempt to rescue two stranded residents who fled to the balcony as the building was engulfed

Firefighters attempt to rescue two stranded residents who fled to the balcony as the building was engulfed

Emergency services work at the scene of a fire of apartment building in Valencia

Emergency services work at the scene of a fire of apartment building in Valencia

Multiple fire pumps are at the scene battling the blaze, which reportedly spread from one residential building to another

Multiple fire pumps are at the scene battling the blaze, which reportedly spread from one residential building to another 

The building in the Campanar area of the port city has been completely gutted

The building in the Campanar area of the port city has been completely gutted

Devastated residents comfort each other at the scene of the huge fire in the Campanar area

Devastated residents comfort each other at the scene of the huge fire in the Campanar area

Residents were pictured watching on in horror tonight as their homes were destroyed in front of their eyes

Residents were pictured watching on in horror tonight as their homes were destroyed in front of their eyes

The multistorey building was left completely gutted, with crowds seen gathering to watch the destruction unfold

The multistorey building was left completely gutted, with crowds seen gathering to watch the destruction unfold

Spanish rescue services members take care of a person affected by a fire in a 14-story residential building in Valencia

Spanish rescue services members take care of a person affected by a fire in a 14-story residential building in Valencia

A general view of the facade during the building fire on February 22, 2024

A general view of the facade during the building fire on February 22, 2024

A black cloud of smoke entirely engulfed the building on Thursday evening and flames

A black cloud of smoke entirely engulfed the building on Thursday evening and flames 

The fire is believed to have broken out at around 5.30pm on one floor before quickly spreading to the rest of the block

The fire is believed to have broken out at around 5.30pm on one floor before quickly spreading to the rest of the block

Firefighters have been using cranes to help rescue people from the burning building

Firefighters have been using cranes to help rescue people from the burning building

Engineer David Higuera also told Spanish newspaper El País that the building’s cladding may have been the cause of the rapid spread of the fire. 

The material is ‘very good at insulating against heat and cold, but very combustible,’ he said.

Dozens of residents were pictured watching on in horror tonight as their homes were destroyed in front of their eyes.

A resident who lives on the second floor of the building told TV channel La Sexta that ‘the fire spread in a matter of 10 minutes’ after it broke out.

He speculated that material on the facade of the building may have enabled the flames to move through the building so quickly.

A resident who lives in the building opposite told RNE radio what she saw when the fire broke out. 

‘At first the fire came out of the balconies and parts of the facade fell down,’ she said, adding that wind had blown parts of the cladding off in recent years and that it had needed to be repaired.

Spain’s TVE public television said there were more than 130 flats in the building. 

Television images showed the entire facade of the building ablaze as burning segments fell to the pavement below and small explosions were heard inside. 

A woman who runs a nearby flower shop told public television the building was no more than 14 years old and had more than 100 flats, all of which were occupied.

‘What caused the fire to spread was mostly the wind,’ she said, describing scenes of ‘chaos’ as the blaze took hold, snarling traffic and sending clouds of smoke everywhere.

A field hospital was set up near the scene in case possible victims required treatment. 

Local media reported several residents calling for help from the balconies of their apartments. 

Experts have blamed the Valencian building's flammable cladding in a tragedy reminiscent of the Grenfell Tower disaster in London in 2017 (pictured)

Experts have blamed the Valencian building’s flammable cladding in a tragedy reminiscent of the Grenfell Tower disaster in London in 2017 (pictured)

The 14-storey flat has reportedly been 'reduced to a skeleton' while a nearby building has also been consumed by the flames

The 14-storey flat has reportedly been ‘reduced to a skeleton’ while a nearby building has also been consumed by the flames

A firefighter works at the scene during the building fire on February 22 in Valencia, Spain

A firefighter works at the scene during the building fire on February 22 in Valencia, Spain

Dramatic footage shows two residents desperately trying to shelter from the fire. A number of people have been rescued from their balconies by firefighters

Dramatic footage shows two residents desperately trying to shelter from the fire. A number of people have been rescued from their balconies by firefighters

Firefighters work to extinguish the flames as they continue to rip through the residential block

Firefighters work to extinguish the flames as they continue to rip through the residential block

The cause of the fire is unknown and it is not known if there are any victims

The cause of the fire is unknown and it is not known if there are any victims

Images showed flames and vast clouds of black smoke engulfing the building

Images showed flames and vast clouds of black smoke engulfing the building

Firefighters have been battling the blaze as it rages through the residential block in the eastern port city

Firefighters have been battling the blaze as it rages through the residential block in the eastern port city

Ana Mari Gonzalez, who works in a nearby clinic, told TVE she could see firefighters working to rescue a teenage boy trapped on the building’s first floor. 

‘Please stay away from the area of the fire to let the emergency services do their work,’ Valencia’s mayor Maria Jose Catala wrote on X.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he was ‘shocked by the terrible fire’ and was in contact with the mayor and the region’s leader ‘to offer whatever help they needed’ and extending his condolences to everyone affected by the blaze.

The Spanish Royal family sent their support to emergency services and added: ‘Our hearts are with the Valencians.’



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