Three people died and around 20 others were injured in the fire at an abandoned industrial warehouse near Barcelona (Spain) on Wednesday evening. The building was inhabited by 100 to 200 migrants in very precarious conditions.
The fire started around 9 p.m. This Thursday, the balance sheet reported three deaths but the firefighters did not rule out that other victims were still found. Access to the three-story building, located in Badalone, is risky due to the damage to the structure which raises fears of collapse. Rescue teams are continuing their search with drones and dogs.
A power failure at the origin of the disaster?
Seven injured are in serious condition. Some jumped from the building to escape the flames. This Thursday, smoke still came out of the windows of the building while a burning smell was perceptible throughout the neighborhood. Images broadcast by local channels and on social media show impressive flames and several individuals climbing up the facade to flee.
The disused building was occupied by irregular migrants, mainly from Africa and working as street vendors or in collecting scrap metal. Their living conditions were very precarious there, with no running water and constant power cuts.
📽 | At least 3 people have died after a fire broke out last night in a warehouse in Badalona, north of Barcelona
60 people have been accounted for, but up to 150 could have been living there at the time
📝 | Find out more: https://t.co/wTd4nu1uLE pic.twitter.com/S2r4GrBd3u
— Catalan News (@catalannews) December 10, 2020
A power failure could be the cause of the disaster. According to one of the migrants who lived there, the electricity was cut before 9 p.m. as they tried to restore it, and a candle allegedly set a mattress on fire. “I was on the terrace,” he says. When I heard screams, I entered. I could hardly breathe and you could hardly see anything because there was no light. “
A vicious circle for the regularization of migrants
According to the town hall of Badalone, at least 60 people living in this warehouse have been identified after the fire. Others left through the back windows of the building for fear of being stopped. The city’s mayor, the conservative Xavier García Albiol, a supporter of the hard way against illegal immigration, says he had tried to deport the migrants on several occasions.
“Nobody wants to live like that,” retorts Seydou Camara, a Senegalese who lived in the warehouse. We all want to rent an apartment. But if you don’t have papers, how can you rent an apartment? “For three years, this young man has been trying to get papers, but for that he must have a work contract… which he cannot claim because he has no papers.
This vicious circle forces many migrants to live in the disused warehouses of the former brownfields of Barcelona and its outskirts. “We denounce the responsibility of the administration which denies the right of migrants to have decent housing and documents”, launched on Twitter the union Mantero which defends the street vendors of Barcelona.