the priest the firemen found hugging his scorched bible

Gabriel Benedicto, the vicar of the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Madrid on Toledo Street, was found by firefighters in his office that was near the boiler but one floor above it, which has saved his life after the very violent explosion that It has practically destroyed the entire building. “It was a miracle, it was a miracle.” It’s the only thing I could pronounce Gabriel Benedict when firefighters found him literally hugging a completely burned bible in his office in the building belonging to the Archdiocese of Madrid and that yesterday literally jumped into the air after a violent explosion taking at least the lives of four people.

A minute before three in the afternoon, several fire stations in Madrid received the alert of a brutal explosion in the heart of the capital. The first calls spoke of an explosion that had practically left the first part of Toledo Street completely strewn with rubble and ash. The number 98 of the central Madrid street had literally exploded into the air. If at first the confusion made us think that the origin of the explosion was in a residence for the elderly adjacent to Vicarage VI, the building devastated, little by little, especially when the smoke and dust began to dissipate, it was possible to appreciate how, literally, the last floors of the religious building had disappeared and only the pillars of the structure remained standing. OKDIARY has had access to the account that sources of the Emergency services make of the events in the absence of the official conclusions of the police investigation already announced by the Ministry of the Interior.


At the end of the morning at least a couple of technicians were conducting an inspection of the boiler in the church building. The heating system was fired by gas and apparently during these maintenance work there could have been a negligible leak for the people who were working on the boiler and also for the priests who were in the building at that time. Gas, as explained by direct sources to this newspaper, being less heavy than air, has been ascending through the building from the basement through the different accesses to the upper floors such as the stairwell.

At one point, the third, fourth, and fifth floors of the building were full of gas, and in fact that is the explanation for why the largest of the explosions has washed away those three floors. And we say the first because in the dozens of images released in the last hours it can also be seen how there is fire on the ground floor of the building. At this time and in the absence of a more calm expert report, the firefighters believe that there were two explosions: a smaller one that directly affected the ground floor and the other, much larger, which was fed by the gas accumulated in the upper floors.

At the time of the explosions, the distribution within the building of some people who inhabited it at that time made a difference in the consequences suffered by each one of them. The boiler was installed on the -1 floor of the building, in the basement, while the office area was on the ground floor, just above the heating system.

One of the priests was in his room and another was walking down some stairs, both of whom survived the explosion. But the one who has starred in what is undoubtedly the miracle of this story is Gabriel Benedicto, a 40-year-old religious whom the firefighters have found in his office, shaking and hugging his literally burned bible. Around him debris everywhere and incipient flames. And Gabriel right there, I live because “this has been a miracle”, as he himself has not stopped repeating to the firefighters who have rescued him. And boy has it been. The vicar was a few meters from the boiler that apparently is the origin of the explosion, but one floor above it, and he was also two floors below those that have been destroyed by the explosion of accumulated gas. Come on, it was between the two hells that have broken out in that building.

Experts consulted by OKDIARY They have explained to this newspaper that the explosion is always a mixture of factors: the fuel, in this case the gas, the oxygen and the power source. But the presence of these components is not enough; they must be in their proper proportion: too much fuel and little oxygen or vice versa would saturate the combustion formula necessary for an explosion of biblical proportions like the one on Toledo Street. A perfect storm of factors that has caught Gabriel, a fortunate religious man who has emerged unscathed. Unfortunately four other people have suffered worse luck than him.