With citizens from 24 countries among dead and injured, hospitals ask English, Italian and French translators for help.
Citizens from at least two dozen countries have been injured or killed in the van attack in Las Ramblas, Barcelona, and the coastal town of Cambrils, according to Catalan authorities.
By Friday morning, 14 people were dead and more than 100 injured. They come from countries including France, Belgium, Italy, Venezuela, Australia, Ireland, Peru, Algeria and China.
The first of the dead to be named was an Italian man, Bruno Gulotta, who was on holiday with his partner and two children, according to his colleagues at the online tech publication Tom’s Hardware. The company’s Facebook page said it was in mourning.
Pino Bruno, the head of the company where Gulotta worked, was quoted by the Italian news agency Ansa as saying the man’s wife had told him she, Gulotta and their two children were walking down La Rambla when the van appeared and Gulotta knelt down to successfully shield their son, six, and daughter, seven months, from the attack.
The second victim was a Belgian woman, Elke Vanbockrijck. Patrick Dewael, the mayor of Tongeren, sent his condolences and told Belgian radio that he had presided over her wedding in 2014. Vanbockrijck, 44, was reported to have been in the city on holiday with her husband and two sons, aged 11 and 14.
The youngest victim of the attacks was thought to be a three-year-old girl, Spanish media reported. She died shortly after she was taken to hospital. A six-year-old girl of unknown nationality was taken to hospital with a cerebral haemorrhage, an official at Vall d’Hebron university hospital told the New York Times.
So far, the British foreign office has received no confirmed reports of British citizens injured or killed.
Chris Pawley, 30, a survivor of the Manchester bombing who was visiting Spain with his partner and was in the area when the attack occurred, told the Manchester Evening News he couldn’t believe he had been caught up in a second terrorism incident in under six months. He had just left the Ariana Grande concert in May when the bomb detonated.
Pawley said of Thursday’s attack: “There was police everywhere and ambulances, the shops started putting the shutters down. We have just come back to the hotel, as we were caught up in the arena attack – can’t believe it.”
France has confirmed that 26 of its citizens were injured, with 11 in a serious condition. The Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, quoting police, said three Germans were among the dead.
Belgium’s foreign affairs minister, Didier Reynders, confirmed on Twitter that one of its citizens had been killed in the attack, and said the Belgian embassy was in touch with hospitals in the area regarding other possible victims.
The Hague said three Dutch nationals had been injured, and a Greek diplomat reported three nationals had been wounded: a woman and her two children. China said two people from Taiwan were being treated for severe injuries sustained in the Barcelona attack. It also confirmed that a citizen of Hong Kong had minor injuries. The US state department said it knew of one American with minor injuries.
Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said four Australians had been hurt – two women in a serious but stable condition, and two men who were “directly affected” and had retreated to their hotel to seek medical attention in the morning. One Australian was missing, she added.
Throughout the long, chaotic night there were urgent appeals on social media for English, Italian and French translators to make their way to hospitals and clinics to assist staff attending the dozens of non-Spanish speaking victims.
Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that it was helping a family of four caught up in the attack. A man originally from the Philippines and resident in Ireland, who was on holiday with his wife and two children, was hit on his side and may need an operation, but his injuries were not life-threatening, Emmanuel Fernandez, the consul general of the embassy of the Philippines in Madrid, told the Irish broadcaster RTÉ.
Overnight, many countries set up emergency helplines for their citizens caught up in the violence, and sent out warnings for those trapped in the affected area to remain inside while counter-terrorism efforts were under way.
Spanish police, meanwhile, swept through the narrow alleys branching off Las Ramblas, past deserted outdoor cafes, where half-eaten plates of tapas lay abandoned by fleeing diners.
Spanish authorities are yet to publish the names of the dead and injured. Foreign embassies are still scrambling to establish who has been affected. Many tourists are not believed to have registered their travel plans and movements.
Many parts of central Barcelona remained sealed off overnight, with guests told to stay in their homes or hotels, and the metro and most transport routes shut down. Families and friends have been split up, with police evacuating people to different parts of the city, and mobile phone networks overwhelmed.
Catalan authorities urged those affected to stay off the phone networks and use social media to inform their loved ones they were OK. Facebook activated its safety check device for the attack, as it did for the terror attacks in Manchester and London.