At least 13 people were killed Sunday after a fire broke out in a nightclub complex in southeastern Spain, authorities said, adding that the number of victims could rise as emergency workers continued to search through the damaged structure.
Police and firefighters in Murcia, Spain, rushed to the Teatre complex, which had been subdivided into at least two nightclubs, after receiving reports of a fire around 6 a.m. The Murcia municipal government declared three days of official mourning to honor those killed in the fire, the city’s mayor, José Ballesta, wrote on social media, lowering the Spanish flag to half-staff outside the city hall.
Spanish authorities did not immediately identify many of the victims, which officials said could require DNA testing. But they have compiled a list of 15 people “whose whereabouts are unknown at this time,” Diego Seral, a spokesperson for the Spanish National Police, told RTVE, the country’s public broadcaster.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze later Sunday morning before entering the building to search for victims, according to Murcia’s emergency services. Authorities also set up a relief center at a local sports venue to provide support for victims’ loved ones, the Spanish police said in a statement.
Most of the damage and the casualties were sustained in the Fonda Milagros club, Seral told reporters at the scene of the fire. The blaze inflicted major structural damage and caused part of the building to cave in, he said, hampering work being done by police and firefighters.
“The conditions continue to be extremely difficult,” Ballesta said. The teams “are working in hellish circumstances,” he said, adding that they would try to shore up the building to prevent further collapse.
Ballesta said responders were still looking through the wreckage of the hollowed-out clubs “in order to extract all of the bodies.”
At least four people – two women, 22 and 25, and two men, 41 and 45 – were wounded after inhaling smoke, emergency services said in a statement.
Video released by Murcia’s fire department Sunday showed firefighters inside the building, walking past tables with half-finished drinks left behind by patrons, as they fired water at large flames.
Authorities did not immediately indicate a cause for the fire. The flames spread widely in the upper half of the complex, but investigators were still trying to determine where the fire had begun, Seral told reporters.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez expressed “love and solidarity with the victims and families” of “the tragic fire.” “Thanks to the emergency services deployed at the scene for their work,” he wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Fernando López Miras, the president of the region of Murcia – of which the city of Murcia is the capital – declared that the state of mourning would also apply across the area.
“Today is a day of mourning and pain,” López Miras said. “My condolences to family and friends, and all my love in these moments of so much pain that we share,” he added.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.