163 bargain-hunters injured as Spanish store collapses

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The Independent Online

At least 163 people were injured near Seville, in southern Spain, when the floor of a furniture warehouse collapsed yesterday under the weight of hundreds of bargain-hunters drawn by the offer of armchairs being sold for the equivalent of £12.

At least 163 people were injured near Seville, in southern Spain, when the floor of a furniture warehouse collapsed yesterday under the weight of hundreds of bargain-hunters drawn by the offer of armchairs being sold for the equivalent of £12.

A vast expanse of the showroom gave way and dumped shoppers and tons of rubble on to the concrete basement 13 feet below. A cloud of dust added to the confusion and panic. Up to 400 shoppers had queued outside the Muebles Peralta store in the town of Dos Hermanas, on the outskirts of Seville, and rushed in when the doors opened at 10am.

Five minutes later the floor caved in as shoppers milled around a cash register to buy one of the 46 armchairs on offer for 3,000 pesetas, reduced from 39,000 pesetas. "You were standing and suddenly it felt as if the floor disappeared," said Aureliano Garcia, a shop owner drawn to the sale by advertising on the radio the day before.

"I saw people screaming, old people with their legs fractured, bones twisted. It was a horrible spectacle."

Mr Garcia, who was taken to hospital, said he was briefly trapped under the rubble and suffered bruises to his chest and back. His wife broke two ribs in the fall.

At least 13 people were seriously injured and 138 had hospital treatment for cuts and bruises. A young woman had her crushed spleen and left kidney removed, and a pregnant woman fractured her pelvis. The remaining victims required only minimal medical attention on the spot. No one was killed.

"We heard two very loud cracks and, a second later, the floor disappeared," another victim said. "About 50 of us fell into the basement along with chunks of rubble and pieces of beams. Luckily, no furniture fell," the man added.

An investigation was opened to establish whether the building conformed with safety standards.

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