Authorities in Spain say a gas leakage caused the explosion which killed forty-eight school children and three adults in a school in the Basque town of Ortuella on Thursday (23 October).
GV Rescue workers searching for bodies after explosion at Ortuella Elementary School in Spain. Bodies being carried on stretchers and parent scrying with grief (6 shots)
GV SOUND STARTS Workers digging through debris (2 shots)
SV Bloodstained wall PULL BACK
GV ZOOM IN TO SV Workers digging amongst rubbish
GV Parents talking to child in hospital bed
SV PULL OUT TO GV Wreaths being hung on wall inside railway station
CU Weeping relatives
GV & CU Coffins being carried into building as parents weep (4 shots)
GV Coffins being brought into hall PAN TO Massed wreaths
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Background: Authorities in Spain say a gas leakage caused the explosion which killed forty-eight school children and three adults in a school in the Basque town of Ortuella on Thursday (23 October). Spanish ???terior Minister, Juan Jose Roson, said the explosion was caused by a gas bubble, possibly ignited by a welding torch. Most of the central part of the school building collapsed. The following day, thousands of mourners attended a mass funeral for the dead children and adults.
SYNOPSIS: When the explosion rocked the small mining town, anguished parents ran to the school to search frantically among the debris for their missing children. Some of them carried off the bodies in their arms. Eyewitnesses said a civil guard tackled a grief-stricken mother who tried to jump off a building shouting, "My sons are there." There may have been as many as thirteen hundred children in the school at the time. It was built to hod up to seven hundred students.
Police and firemen rejected speculation that the disaster was the work of political extremists in the troubled Basque country.They believe a tank of propane gas used in the central heating system blew up. A workman was killed repairing a boiler in the basement.
Many of the children, aged between six and ten, were trapped in a basement classroom.
At nightfall, firemen, policemen, members of the armed forces and civilian volunteers were still clearing away debris in the hope of finding more survivors.
Hospitals in northern Spanish cities sent blood plasma after successfully appealing to the public for donors. Radio stations called on doctors and nurses off duty to go to Ortuella. Thirty children were injured, eight of them seriously. Hardly a family in Ortuella was not affected by the blast.
The community of twelve thousand was stunned by the tragedy. Religious series were held all over Spain, with schools closed for a day of mourning. Six parents were said to have fainted during the mass funeral held in a warehouse.
Tens of thousands of people came from all over the region to line the one-mile (1.5 kms) uphill route to the graveyard as fifty-one white coffins were carried along. The funeral took place on an autumn day of driven rain and cold winds.
Among those who filled the warehouse were the entire Basque autonomous government, three government ministers, and the Basque country Governor General, Senor Marcelino Oreja. All rival political forces from the region were represented. Rain beating on the roof made it difficult to hear the service.