Fire kills 8, injures dozens at Portugal community centre

Fire kills 8, injures dozens at Portugal community centre

LISBON: Fire ripped through a community centre in northern Portugal, where dozens of people were watching a weekend football match, killing at least eight and injuring many more, officials said.

Some 38 people were injured, including nine with severe burns who were taken by helicopter to hospitals in Porto and Lisbon, emergency response chief Carlos Pereira told AFP. Those seriously injured were all over 50 with the exception of one 15-year-old. No information was available on the identities of those who died.

"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.

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. Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa visited the scene on Sunday and spoke with local residents gathered outside the village chapel.