Spanish nightclub where 13 people died in fire was operating without a licence

The mother of one of the victims, killed in a fire at a nightclub where he was celebrating his birthday in Murcia.
The mother of one of the victims, killed in a fire at a nightclub where he was celebrating his birthday in Murcia. Copyright JOSE JORDAN/AFP or licensors
By Euronews
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According to local authorities, the nightclub had been under a closure order. The families say the tragedy could have been avoided.


Despite attracting hundreds of people every weekend and being promoted on social media, the Spanish nightclub 'Fonda Milagros', where at least 13 people died in a fire on Sunday, did not have a licence to open.

A venue that shouldn't have even been open became a deadly trap for revellers when flames took hold in the early hours of Sunday morning. 

Although the circumstances of the fire are still under investigation, the local council has made it clear that the nightclub has been under a closure order since January 2022.

This Tuesday, the High Court in Murcia opened proceedings for 13 alleged crimes of involuntary manslaughter, sources at the High Court confirmed to El País.

They have also confirmed that the investigation into the matter is sub judice.

This handout photograph taken and released on October 1, 2023 by the 112 Emergency Services of the Murcia Region.HANDOUT/AFP

Why did the nightclub have to close?

In June 2019, the owners of the venue approached the Town Hall in the south-eastern Spanish city of Murcia because they wanted to split the venue into two separate nightclubs.

The application was rejected and the town hall asked for a new licence. In October, following the company's appeal, the final closure was ordered.

The families claim that this tragedy could have been avoided, and are now asking why the nightclub was not closed.

It's a question that the local authorities have been unable to answer and have blamed the company.

The lawyer for the owners of the nightclub told the EFE news agency that they had always acted "diligently" and complied with the regulations.

He pointed out that an inspection had been carried out in March and that the premises had been found to comply with health and hygiene requirements, so there was no obstacle to their registration in the relevant regional register.

JOSE JORDAN/AFP or Licensors
Murcia Region's President Fernando Lopez Miras talks to media on October 2.JOSE JORDAN/AFP or Licensors

Only six bodies identified

As disputes between the town council and the company continue, only six of the thirteen bodies have been identified.

The condition of the others makes identification difficult, so a specialist team from Madrid has travelled to the region.

They will need to carry out DNA tests, so the police have gone to the victims' homes in search of genetic samples from relatives to cross-check the evidence.

Walter Hernandez was one of the people at the disco that tragic night. The Nicaraguan told El Mundo newspaper that he saved his life by going downstairs to order a drink minutes before the fire broke out.

His cousin, Eric Torres, had gathered much of his family that night to celebrate his birthday.

As soon as he got downstairs, Hernandez began to smell burning plastic, "then the first flame. The lights went out and then there were screams.

Some of those present suggested that the fire may have been caused by the use of flares inside.

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