8 killed, 38 injured in Portugal community centre fire

AFP . Lisbon | Update:

Map of Portugal community centre fireFire ripped through a local community centre in northern Portugal where dozens of people were watching a weekend football match, killing eight and injuring another 38, nine seriously, officials said Sunday.

Nine people with severe burns were taken by helicopter to hospitals in Porto and Lisbon, emergency response chief Carlos Pereira told AFP.

Civil protection official Paulo Santos earlier said between 50 and 60 people were hurt.

“It happened very fast. The whole floor was in flames within five minutes,” survivor Julio Dias told the daily Publico. “In the panic, a lot of people massed against the doors and it was impossible to open them.”

He said a few minutes later rescue workers forced open a door using ropes tied to an all-terrain vehicle.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was heading to the scene on Sunday.

Officials said the fire broke out at around 9 pm (2100 GMT) Saturday on the first floor of the building in a village near Tondela, which lies between the northern towns of Coimbra and Viseu.

Many had taken part in an amateur card tournament, playing Sueca, a popular game in Portugal, and were watching football match, they said.

Local mayor Jose Antonio Jesus said the fire was caused by the explosion of a wood-burning stove, which let off a “large quantity” of carbon monoxide.

The Tondela fire service said the blaze was brought under control after an hour.

The area was hit by a series of deadly wildfires in October.

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