The host of a birthday party that ended in tragedy as 18 guests died of apparent carbon monoxide survived by sleeping in another room.
The 18 are believed to have been poisoned by a malfunctioning gas heater.
Autopsies were carried out overnight following the discovery of the bodies yesterday afternoon at a hostel converted from a 15th century hermitage in the Maestrazgo mountains near Todolella in eastern Spain.
Spain’s deputy prime minister, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, was to attend a funeral mass today in the nearby town of Morella in the Valencia region. The regional government declared a day of mourning.
The dead include 11 men and seven women, most of them at least 30 years old. They slept together in an open room warmed by a butane gas heater.
Host Bartolome Meseguer - celebrating his 50th birthday with friends and relatives from nearby towns and villages - and a friend survived by sleeping in an adjacent room. He found the bodies.
“The deaths are almost certainly a result of inhalation of gas,” regional Interior Ministry delegate Antonio Bernabe said.
Distraught and weeping relatives and friends arrived at a sports hall last night where police and forensic experts explained what had happened.