Fire broke out in an abandoned warehouse occupied by migrants in Badalona, Spain, Wednesday 9 December 2020 | Photo: picture-alliance/J. Mateu
Fire broke out in an abandoned warehouse occupied by migrants in Badalona, Spain, Wednesday 9 December 2020 | Photo: picture-alliance/J. Mateu

Rescuers have found a fourth body in the ruins of a burnt-out warehouse near Barcelona, where up to 200 mostly African migrants were living in precarious conditions. The fire that destroyed the building, which broke out last Wednesday, also injured 20 people.

Six days after the deadly fire that destroyed a warehouse housing migrants near Barcelona, a fourth victim was found dead in the charred remains of the building.

"We regret that a few minutes ago a fourth victim was found during the process of demolishing the building in Badalona," regional official Miquel Samper told reporters. "We hope no more victims will be found in the ongoing demolition process."

The fourth victim is also thought to be a migrant, although Samper said none of them would be identified until the building had been thoroughly searched.

News agency AP reported that the regional fire service confirmed the discovery of the fourth victim. On Twitter, the fire service said it had sent four teams to help with the recovery efforts, among them experts on structural damage.

Last week's blaze, which raged until Thursday morning before firefighters were able to get it under control, also injured another 20 people including some who jumped out of the three-storey building to escape the flames. The building is located in an industrial area of Badalona, a Barcelona suburb, where the migrants were living in squalid conditions.

According to the mayor of Badalona, the building had been occupied for at least eight years. He said the city hall had started work to empty the building after an increase in drug sales and minor thefts in the area over the past two years.

Illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

The disaster highlighted the dire living conditions of Spain's undocumented migrants. All over the country, migrants use dozens of places like the one in Badalona as shelters.

Most of those living in the warehouse were illegal immigrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa. They typically get by through selling trinkets on the streets or collecting scrap metal, fellow residents and neighbors said.

With no residency papers, such immigrants struggle to find a job. Without that, they are unable to rent a place to live and end up sleeping rough, often in abandoned buildings.

One survivor, Matiga Thiam from Senegal, told AP that he moved into the warehouse in Badalona six months after he had arrived in Spain from Italy. He and fellow Senegalese Ousmane Ndiaye, who has been in Spain for 14 years, had been surviving on selling scrap metal.

Badalona officials said they had found least 60 people who had lived in the warehouse but many others had fled.

With Reuters, AFP


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