At least eight people died and dozens were injured, some seriously, after a salamander exploded and started a fire late Saturday at the packed premises of a local residents association in, Vila Nova da Rainha, Tondela  in the north of Portugal.

A salamander explosion at 20.40 hrs set fire to the false ceiling of the building and caused widespread panic as people on both floors of the association rushed to the front door. Several people were overwhelmed and this was the cause of the most serious injuries. But there are also several cases of people who have suffered severe burns.

Civil Protection Agency commander Paulo Santos told local radio station TSF that at least at least 35 people were injured, 14 of them in serious condition. One of the injured is a 15 year old.
Around 70 people were taking part in an evening amateur card tournament when the fire occoured. They said people crowded the exits as thick smoke filled the building. Dozens of fire crews and two rescue helicopters were at the scene taking the injured to hospital.

According to the CDOS at the peak of the operation were mobilized about 200 operatives and 74 vehicles involved in victim assistance operations. Four aerial media were activated. Six medical teams from INEM that set up an advanced medical post in order to screen all the wounded.

The President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa,will visit the scene this morning Sunday 14th January.