The first videos that circulated set off alarm in the Colombian community. The accent pointed to victims of our country in the fire in the nightclubs in the Las Atalayas area of Murcia, which covers La Fonda, Teatre and Golden. After the chaos and uncertainty of the tragedy, which occurred early Sunday morning, the terrible result was known: 13 dead.
The missing people who were searched for during the first hours have already been located. AND Authorities are now identifying the fatalities. However, It is known that the majority are Latin, or even Colombian, since they were the ones who regularly went to those entertainment centers.
In fact, one of the owners is Juan Esteban Ramírez, who arrived in Spain 22 years ago with his family from Manizales, Colombia.
He himself explained that the vast majority of those who died were Colombians. “We have an impressive sadness for the lives that have gone and because everything is gone, although that is the least important thing,” he told EL TIEMPO. “The first and foremost thing is the families, recognizing the bodies and clarifying how everything happened.”
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Ramírez explained that they noticed the fire because smoke began to enter from the premises next door, Teatre, which was where everything originated.
“No one told us at any time that there was a fire and this is the saddest thing that has not been said. We communicated with the premises through a wall and two doors, and when we saw the smoke below we began to evacuate,” he explained.
“When I left, those from the premises next door had already vacated. “If we had had a few more minutes or they had warned us, there would surely have been no victims,” he added.
In fact, he says that his brother, two doormen and himself helped people leave. until the lack of light—the electricity was cut—and the smoke prevented them from continuing.
If we had had a few more minutes or they had warned us, there would surely have been no victims.
Teatre occupied a large space and the owner decided to divide it into two parts. They rented one of them for Fonda Milagros. The place was decorated with a Colombian atmosphere, precisely in the style of an inn, and Artificial plant material and wood may have facilitated the spread of the fire. The idea was to make customers feel at home, to remind them of their origin.
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The fire took place shortly before 6:00 in the morning, time when people usually go home after a night of partying in Spain. In fact, many were already leaving.
Regarding the origin of the fire, there is still no known cause. Although the authorities are investigating and they are the ones who have to determine it, They told Ramírez that a type of gunpowder that they threw in Teatre towards the ceiling produced sparks in a speaker, which could have produced it. “I don’t know if that’s what it is, but the sad thing is that it has affected us so much,” she says.
Controversy over alleged ordered closure in 2022
The tragedy has occupied the attention of Spanish citizens. The Murcia City Council offered a press conference early in the afternoon, where announced that two of the three nightclubs (Teatre and la Fonda) had been ordered to close from 2022.
But Ramírez assures that he was unaware of it. “Neither the owner of the premises nor the authorities ever told us anything.” He explains that there were no inspections either. “What’s more: it is assumed that the closure order was in January or February of last year, and in July the City Council asked us to make some reforms, so it makes no sense for them to say that it had been ordered to suspend it.”
The arrangements they made were an emergency door and a system to isolate sound as much as possible. “There is bad information and at this moment they are looking for culprits,” says Ramírez.
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He also claims that the police have not told him anything about it since the fire occurred. They did ask for some documents that he provided.
He and his family are receiving a lot of criticism and prefer to take shelter. Apart from the fact that several of them also live in Murcia, they have a restaurant. “It is very painful and they are hitting us very hard,” he says.
They have also received messages of support because they are well known within the community. “Our family has no strength for anything,” he added. We are with the people but we cannot get closer. From the bottom of my heart I assure you that we risked our lives until the last moment.”
Ramírez says that three years ago his sister, founder of the nightclub, died in the pandemic. “We go from tragedy to tragedy,” he emphasizes.
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Murcia decrees days of mourning
Three days of mourning, in which a minute of silence is observed at noon, commemorate the victims in the Region of Murcia starting this Monday.
The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, assured that for now the priority is “to identify the sadly deceased to generate that minimum tranquility in their personal and family environment.” He also said that we must “let the investigations follow their proper course” and that “the necessary and precise measures will be taken, consequences of these investigations.”
On Monday afternoon, citizens with the flags of Colombia and Nicaragua gathered in support of the families of the deceased, with white bombs and candles.
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This tragedy is reminiscent in Spain of the fire that took place in December 1983 at the Alcalá 20 nightclub in Madrid, when 81 people died.
For Ramírez and his family this is “a very complicated moment,” as he expressed. “We are devastated,” she said.
JUANITA SAMPER OSPINA