Guests at the Qawra Palace Hotel were evacuated after a fire developed at the hotel this afternoon.
Fifteen of the hotel guests, including a few elderly people, were treated for smoke inhalation, Civil Protection Department chief Emmanuel Psaila told The Malta Independent.
The number of those treated for smoke inhalation was later revised to 25 by Home Minister Michael Farrugia, who was present on site for a time while the firefighters were battling the blaze.
The fire, which started in the hotel spa, was brought under control within an hour, but the operation was not over at that stage, as smoke present in parts of the hotel needed to be removed. Ventilators were used to push the smoke out of the building, Psaila said.
Paramedics assisted the severely shocked hotel residents, giving them blankets, water and seats outside the hotel. None of the people inside the hotel at the time of the fire needed hospital treatment, Psaila said.
Psaila said that when the fire-fighters arrived at the scene, all the guests were evacuated and a head count conducted to establish that there weren’t any people trapped inside. Nine fire engines from the units of Xemxija, Hal Far and Kordin rushed to the area to assist in the operation, he said.
Hotel staff was also evacuated, and gathered outside the hotel to contact their relatives and friends to inform them about the ongoing operation.
The cause of the fire still unknown, but extensive damage was caused to parts of the hotel. Residents who spoke to The Malta Independent said there was a strong smell of fire inside the building, which was engulfed by a huge smoke cloud which quickly spread to parts of the hotel.
Apart from the nine fire-engines, two ambulances were also on site together with the major incident unit van.
CPD personnel were seen entering the hotel with breathing apparatus, given the density of the smoke.
Photos: Alenka Falzon
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