Firefighters say the blaze was most likely caused by a boiler explosion at a local community centre near Tondela municipality in northern Portugal where people had gathered for an amateur card tournament.

Policemen stand outside the building, at right, where a heater exploded killing people in the village of Vila Nova da Rainha, outside Tondela, northern Portugal, in the early hours of Sunday, Jan. 14 2018.
Policemen stand outside the building, at right, where a heater exploded killing people in the village of Vila Nova da Rainha, outside Tondela, northern Portugal, in the early hours of Sunday, Jan. 14 2018. ( AP )

At least eight people have been killed and dozens injured in a fire and stampede in a local leisure association in the town of Vila Nova da Rainha in northern Portugal on Saturday night, officials said.

Mayor Jose Antonio de Jesus said in televised remarks that over 60 people had been taking part or watching a card tournament in the two-storey popular gathering place of the town 260 km northeast of Lisbon when the fire erupted.

"Several dozen people have been injured, some lightly and others gravely, and are still being assisted," he said.

Firefighters and rescue workers gather outside the building of a local community centre where a fire killed eight people in Vila Nova da Rainha in Tondela late on January 13, 2018.
Firefighters and rescue workers gather outside the building of a local community centre where a fire killed eight people in Vila Nova da Rainha in Tondela late on January 13, 2018. ( AFP )

He would not say what had caused the fire, but local media cited firefighters on the spot as saying that an explosion of a heating boiler was the likely cause.

Portugal suffered from its deadliest ever forest fires last year, which killed a total of over 100 people - the worst loss of human lives in living memory in the country. 

Source: Reuters