Eighteen people gathered in a mountain hostel in eastern Spain for a birthday party died in their sleep from an apparent gas leak, officials said today.
Two other persons who slept in the building are said to have survived.
The victims – aged between 20 and 40 – were part of a 50-strong group who had converged from several villages on a hostel in the hamlet of Todolella for the Saturday night party.
“They were celebratng a party, the birthday of one of them, last night and several of them stayed in the hostel to sleep,” Todolella Mayor Alfredo Querol told the private Radio SER. “All except two, who slept in another room, died.”
“The judicial police are there investigating but from what I could see on first glance there doesn’t seem to be any other cause than the bottle of gas.”
Regional Interior Ministry delegate Antonio Bernabe said, ”The deaths are almost certainly a result of inhalation of gas.”
Television images showed families of the dead distraught and weeping as they arrived at a sports complex in the town where news reports said the bodies might be taken.
Other reports said the bodies would be taken to the provincial capital of Castellon for post mortems.
Valencia’s regional president, Francisco Camps, who rushed to the town on hearing the news, said psychologists would arrive in the town to help the bereaved families.
Todolella is a village of some 140 inhabitants in eastern Castellon province, which is part of the Valencia region.
Most of the people went home after the party but those who stayed turned on a butane gas heater in the room where they were to sleep, emergency rescue workers said.
An apparent gas leak from that heater killed the 18 revellers as they slept, the Valencia regional government’s emergency services said.
The bodies were found by hostel workers this afternoon.
The hostel is housed in a 15th-century building and is frequented by bikers, hikers and horse riders.