A four-month-old baby and his three-year-old brother died with their parents on Tuesday when a fire ripped through an abandoned bank where the Pakistani man‘s family was squatting in Barcelona, in a blaze denounced as “horrific” by the Spanish city’s mayor.

Chief firefighter Angel Lopez said the alarm was raised at around 6:00 am (0500 GMT) by a witness who spotted the fire in a former bank building in the central Plaza de Tetuan.

It was only while they were battling the fire that they realised there were four people inside: “two adults, a baby and a three-year-old boy”, Lopez said.

“Emergency services tried to revive them, but they couldn’t save them.”

The couple, a 40-year-old man and his 39-year-old partner, used to collect scrap metal, Barcelona city hall said, saying the children were two boys, one aged three, the other just four months.

According to La Vanguardia newspaper, he was from Pakistan and she was Romanian.

“There are no words to describe the horror of four people dying, among them two very young children, this is something that should never have happened… It is horrible news,” Barcelona mayor Ada Colau told reporters at the scene, herself a former activist against evictions.

Neighbours who lived in a flat above the premises which was not harmed in the fire, said they could hear the family screaming for help.

“My wife smelled something burning, we got up and saw nothing but when we went to the place where we keep the washing machine, there was a huge amount of smoke,” said Miquel Guimera.

– ‘Screaming for help’ –

“Downstairs in the squat they were screaming for help, because they were locked in. It was quite traumatic,” he said, indicating the family had been living in the squat for two or three years.

“It’s a real shame about those two little children.”

Four men who had run into a courtyard to escape the flames were rescued and taken to hospital for smoke inhalation, Lopez said.

The Mossos d’Esquadra regional police have opened an investigation into the fire, which took place in a lively middle-class residential neighbourhood in the heart of Barcelona.

By News Desk

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