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Valencia fire: Nine dead found in gutted flats by Spanish police

  • Nine bodies found in Valencia
  • Fire spread rapidly, cladding blamed
  • Mourning and aid efforts underway

Firefighters and forensic authorities in Spain have discovered nine bodies in the rubble of a fourteenth-floor apartment complex that was destroyed by fire in Valencia.

Officials initially reported that ten people had been killed, but subsequently revised their figure to include one individual as missing.

Both the exterior cladding and strong winds are being blamed for the rapid spread of the fire within the structure within minutes.

Officials have declined to comment on inquiries regarding the cause of the fire.

A three-day period of mourning will ensue.

It is believed that the fire began on the fourth floor of the larger of the two fourteen-story buildings, rapidly consuming it within minutes before spreading to the adjacent one.

Firefighters faced significant obstacles in their efforts to reach beyond the twelfth floor due to the perilous rate at which the flames consumed a cladding material attached to the structure via an exceedingly thin layer of aluminium.

Along with the high temperatures and strong winds that characterised Thursday evening in Valencia, the College of Industrial Technical Engineers of Valencia cited this as a potential cause of the fire.

“This type of cladding is the reason the [building] burned so quickly,” said college vice president Esther Puchades, who had previously inspected the structure.

While the aluminum-coated panels were not deemed combustible, building codes at the time of the structure’s completion in 2008 permitted such cladding. However, such practices have since been prohibited.

However, there was no systematic initiative in place to remove the prohibited cladding. This was unlike the case in the United Kingdom subsequent to the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017. This process is ongoing.

Valencia Fire: Bravery Amidst Devastation

As investigators examined the interiors of the two adjacent structures in the Campenar neighbourhood, only the charred shells remained.

They were initially compelled to use drones on Friday until the temperatures decreased. There were still traces of smoke emanating from the upper levels of the severely damaged apartment buildings.

As the magnitude of the catastrophe was validated, anecdotes surfaced. These were about personal acts of bravery as the fire consumed the building’s exterior, trapping the occupants.

A male custodian, identified solely as Julián, received widespread acclaim for frantically knocking on doors in an effort to evacuate individuals as the fire spread.

Manuel, an apartment block occupant, stated that he was inside the complex when he saw the fire spread.

“Upon seeing the flames penetrating the sheet metal, I immediately informed my mother and the unaware residents inside. “All of us descended the stairs,” he told Spanish television.

He stated that within ten to fifteen minutes, they were enveloped in a black cloud.

As of Friday evening, two of the fifteen injured firefighters were remained hospitalised, although their lives were not in danger.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez visited the site where the dilapidated residential buildings stood, thereafter pledging support to local authorities in their efforts to address the calamity. He stated, “We wish to extend our affection, sympathy, and solidarity to the families of those lost in this tragic fire.”

Minister of Science Diana Morant also stated, “We stand ready to assist in any way necessary.”

Carlos Mazón, the president of the regional government of Valencia, stated that he was working with the city government. They aim to provide housing and essentials to those whose homes had been destroyed.

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138 apartments, which collectively housed 450 individuals, were completely destroyed by the fire.

Valencians have been collecting provisions, clothing, and personal hygiene products for the fire’s displaced survivors.

The Mestalla Stadium in Valencia has cancelled its La Liga match on Saturday in observance of the victims. The organisation expressed that the devastating fire on Avenida Maestro Rodrigo in the city had profoundly impacted it.

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