Mystery deepens over Madrid skyscraper blaze

3rd March 2005, Comments 0 comments

3 March 2005, MADRID-Shadowy figures captured on an amateur video of a burning Madrid skyscraper were indeed human beings, police scientists said.

3 March 2005

MADRID-Shadowy figures captured on an amateur video of a burning Madrid skyscraper were indeed human beings, police scientists said.

Scientists admitted to bafflement as to who could have been inside the structure over two hours after firefighters said it was completely empty.

In a report carried by the Spanish daily El Pais, police said an analysis of the video sequence, focused on a floor which was well below the main blaze that gutted the 31-storey Windsor Tower on 13 February.

The video indicated that what appeared to be two people moving around with torches really were just that: two people moving around with torches.

There was apparently no question that anyone died in the blaze, which lit up central Madrid for a whole night and at one point raised fears that the empty office block might collapse.

A police source quoted by El Pais said there was no possibility that the images seen on the video had been caused by reflections from the windows of nearby buildings.

The source also said that the video images had not been tampered with after being shot.

Even if the blaze had been set off by arsonists - an hypothesis which is not given much credence by investigators - it was highly improbable that the perpetrators would have remained inside the building long after the fire began, the paper added.

The video sequence, shot at between 3.00am and 4.00am, raises questions as to whether somebody had either entered the building after firefighters said they had evacuated it, or had remained inside during the evacuation.

Firefighters had announced that the tower block, which was undergoing renovation when the blaze broke out on the evening of 12 February, was empty by 00.45am.

Over two hours after that, the two figures were caught on camera in offices of the accountancy firm Deloitte, which leased several floors of the Windsor Tower.

The offices filmed were on the 12th floor of the structure, some eight floors below the level at which the fire was blazing at the time.

Deloitte's public relations office  said the company "has no official opinion on the issue".

"At 1.30am in the morning, when the edifice was in flames, a building guard told a Deloitte official that there was nobody from the company in the building at the time of the fire," the company said.

"We are not able to check that because the electronic employee access cards for the building are currently in the hands of police investigators," Deloitte added.

Deloitte has accounting contracts with 21 of the 35 biggest companies in Spain, including Telefonica and the banking groups Santander and BBVA.

Spanish press reports earlier said that a woman translator was the last Deloitte employee to leave the burning building, at 11.00pm.

Demolition work on the gutted shell of the 106-metre (347-foot) Windsor Tower began at the end of last month, and is expected to last around a year.

So far, investigators believe the fire was accidental.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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