LISBON, Portugal -- At least eight people died and dozens were injured, some seriously, after a heater exploded and started a fire late Saturday at the packed premises of a local residents' association in the north of Portugal, officials said.
A wood-burning stove exploded in the two-story building in the town of Tondela, around 250 kilometres (150 miles) north of the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, local mayor Jose Gomes Jesus told reporters.
Civil Protection Agency commander Paulo Santos told local radio station TSF that at least 50 people were injured.
Witnesses speaking to local television channels said the fire caused panic among the roughly 60 people in the building who were taking part in an evening amateur card tournament. 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.
Authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.