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Baby and three-year-old among dead in Barcelona squat fire

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By Luke Hurst & AFP
The scene of the fire in Barcelona
The scene of the fire in Barcelona   -   Copyright  Luke Hurst/ Euronews

A baby and a three-year-old child were among four people who died on Tuesday morning in a fire in a squatted former bank branch in the centre of Barcelona, the fire brigade of Spain's second city said.

The victims are "two adults, a baby and a three-year-old child", Ángel López, in charge of the operation for the fire brigade, told the press, adding that the fire was now out.

The premises, where the fire broke out at around 6 am, "is a former occupied bank branch" in Tetuan square, the firefighter added, giving no further details of the victims.

Four other people living in the building were able to escape the flames and were found in a courtyard by the fire brigade, he said.

The authorities did not specify the nationality of the victims.

"There are no words to describe the horror of the death of these four people, including two small children. This is something that should never happen," said Ada Colau, the city's mayor, as she visited the scene.

Without specifying whether the victims belonged to the same family, Colau said those in the premises were living in "very precarious conditions".

There were many police and firefighters dispatched to the scene on Tuesday morning. The rescue workers were going in and out of a burnt out building, the front of which was covered in graffiti.

'They were trapped'

"There was a lot of smoke, and downstairs, in the premises turned into a squat, the occupants were shouting, calling for help, because they were trapped," said an emotional Miquel Guimera, 41, who lives just above the former bank branch on the first floor.

"We went out, we called the fire brigade, everything that has happened since 5.50 am is a bit traumatic," he continued, recalling hearing a brawl at around 2 am.

Ada Colau said authorities were aware of "problems of cohabitation" and that police had intervened at the address on several occasions.

She added that the cause of the fire remained unknown at this stage.

Asked about the reasons for the fire, the regional interior minister, Joan Ignasi Elena, confirmed to the press that the Catalan police had indeed intervened "last night for incidents linked to problems of cohabitation, disputes", but refused to establish a causal link with the fire.