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Erasmus student dies in Brussels house fire
An Italian graduate who came to Brussels on an Erasmus study-abroad year has died in a house fire in Etterbeek over the weekend.
The fire broke out at about 5.00 on Saturday morning, according to the Brussels fire brigade.
“When the emergency services arrived, the fire appeared to be raging heavily on the ground floor,” said fire brigade spokesman Walter Derieuw.
“Additional fire brigade and medical teams were immediately sent to the scene. An unconscious person was found on the second floor. Despite immediate resuscitation attempts at the scene, the person unfortunately died.”
The victim came to Belgium from Fiesso d'Artico (Venice) through the Erasmus student exchange programme. Italian media report that the 29-year-old Anna Tuzzato had been living in Brussels since 2021 and likely died in her sleep due to smoke inhalation.
Tuzzato completed her Erasmus course and was able to get her “dream job” in Brussels as head of communications for the NGO IFOAM Organics Europe, a federation representing interests of organic farmers.
The woman’s parents and two sisters were reportedly flown to Brussels, Italian public broadcaster Rai reported, and messages of support have poured in from Italy.
“The news fills us with sadness,” said Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region. “The region is losing a young, promising professional.”
The mayor of Fiesso d'Artico also shared his condolences via a message on Facebook: “The community supports the Tuzzato family, affected by the tragic death of their daughter Anna, who worked in Brussels.”
A moment of mourning will take place in the Italian municipality on the day of her funeral.
Police evacuated local residents during the blaze. A neighbour was injured during the evacuation and transferred to a hospital, along with a firefighter who sustained injuries while extinguishing the fire, including second-degree burns on his hand.
The fire was brought under control within about 15 minutes and eventually extinguished, though the aftermath will involve lengthy clean-up work. A car parked in front of the affected house was also damaged by the fire.
The cause is not yet clear, according to Derieuw: “Preliminary findings at the scene point to a fire of accidental origin, but this is yet to be confirmed.”
The house has been declared uninhabitable, meaning three people will have to be accommodated elsewhere. The Etterbeek municipality will provide shelter and counselling for those affected.