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Six residents of a nursing home in eastern Spain perished after a fire broke out in the night, authorities said Wednesday.
Valencia’s regional head, Ximo Puig, said that 17 more residents were hospitalized, with three in serious condition.
Firefighters said that they rescued 25 residents out of a total of 70 that were evacuated from the nursing home in the municipality of Moncada just north of Valencia.
Firefighter chief José Basset told Spanish news agency EFE that the fire appears to have started in a bedroom on the second floor. He said that when the firefighters arrived “there was a large number of people asking for help who were trapped by the smoke.”
Puig said that Spain's Civil Guard police force were investigating the cause of the fire, but that investigators believe it could have been caused by a short-circuit in a mechanism linked to a oxygen tank.
“The most important thing now is the recovery of those who have been injured,” Puig said.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez sent his condolences to the families.
Sánchez tweeted in Spanish that he was following “the tragic news from Moncada. My condolences to the families of the victims. We are watching with concern the evolution of the injured. All our support for the families and the town.”
Municipal authorities in Moncada have called for three days of mourning, with flags flying at half-staff on the town hall building. Officials called for a minute of silence at noon local time.
Spain's nursing homes, like in many other countries, were particularly hard-hit during the worst months of the COVID-19 pandemic.