Emergency services on Thursday recovered the body of a teenager who was trapped among the rubble of a three-story building that collapsed the night before in Peñíscola, Castellón (Valencia region). Three people were buried by the collapse, according to sources from the local police. One of them, a man aged around 20, was located by rescuers and responded to their calls. He was rescued conscious at around midnight by emergency crews, who had to remove the rubble by hand to reach him.
On Thursday morning, the search continued for a woman who had reportedly been in the same apartment as the rescued man when the accident happened.
The reasons for the collapse are so far unknown. The incident took place just before 8pm on Wednesday evening in a building made up of around 20 apartments, in a development named Font Nova de Peñíscola. The buildings are located on the outskirts of the center of the town and have been left severely damaged by the collapse.
The municipality has a registered population of 7,683 inhabitants but this number swells to as many as 100,000 in the summer vacation season.
According to witnesses who saw the collapse, the incident took place in two stages. First part of the building gave way, before another part 15 minutes later. This delay allowed some of the people in the area to leave before the second collapse.
At around midnight firefighters working on the rescue suddenly hugged one another, after locating the man trapped under the rubble. “After he responded to our calls, we tried to ensure he didn’t lose consciousness,” explained fire chief Carlos Verchili, visibly moved by the experience. “Initially we had no visual contact, just via his words or signals. In the end we reached him. He was surrounded by wrought iron in a very unstable zone.”
The youngster was trapped from the neck downward, in a small space that only allowed him to move his arm. Before he was pulled from the rubble a medical team administered a sedative given his state of shock. Deputy fire chief Enrique Egea reported that he had never before seen a building collapse of this kind.
According to municipal sources, the accident was not due to an explosion and the building is barely 30 years old, suggesting that there were no problems with the structure or foundations related to the passing of time.
The moment the firefighters rescued the man who was found alive in the rubble.
Nine families – some 30 people in total – have had to be rehoused from the collapsed building and those surrounding it to hotels, the homes of relatives or their primary residences. Technicians from the local council also traveled to the scene to determine whether there is a risk of collapse of the rest of the buildings.
English version by Simon Hunter.