Saturday, February 19, 2005

FOUL PLAY in the Madrid office tower fire? When the building burned down last week, I wrote "They'll have to investigate not only the cause of the fire, but why hydrants and fire-extinguishing automatic systems didn't work; even though there were renovations, the offices were working just the same. Hmmm."

Well, it turns out that a home video taped by one of the neighbors who was watching the tower on fire has surfaced, and it shows what seems to be some people, with a torch/flashlight [added both UK and US English words for clarification -- F.A.], several floors below at the very same moment when the upper floors were burning spectacularly. The images were taken between 3 and 6 am, and the really suspicious thing is that the fire department has officially declared that at 1 am -that is, two hours before the first images were taped- all firemen had evacuated the building because they saw that there was nothing they could to to put it out. The video has been shown by all TV networks, and you can see it by yourselves here (link and information in Spanish, from Tele 5, one of the broadcast TV networks: on that page, click on "ver video" and a popup player will start).

Images are quite blurry, especially on the internet, but law enforcement officers are saying that the tape apparently is genuine and has not been manipulared. And believe me, seeing them on TV it looks really suspicious; it doesn't look as an optical effect at all.

Besides, I have just seen on TVE (the government-owned TV network) another witness who didn't take pictures but who also saw people in the building at that time.

Hmmmmm indeeed. As Matt Drudge would say, "Developing..."

UPDATE. Forgot to mention that officially there were no victims and there was nobody missing. Was it someone trying to save documents (the building was the office of 1/ the auditing firm Deloitte & Touche, which is the absolute no.1 in Spain and audits most of the firms in the Madrid Stock Market's reference index, and 2/ Spain's leading law firm)? Was it the perpetrators of the fire (the version that it had been a short-circuit had been in doubt already for a couple of days)? Unlikely, since they would have already fled after starting the fire. Besides, it would have been almost unthinkable that at that time, when the building was cordoned off and watched carefully by firemen, police, TV news cameras, hundreds of onlookers, they could have escaped unseen. Unless they were, say, "suicide fire perpetrators", if ya know what I mean. But then again, why no bodies? Too burnt to notice? I have no knowledge of forensics, but I guess at least some traces would've been discovered at this point.

UPDATE II. South Africa's News24 has picked up the story (hat tip: Thomas Lifsom)