Barcelona: Sagrada Familia church hit by 'arson attack'

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Media captionVisitors wait outside the Sagrada Familia after the fire in the basilica

More than 1,500 people were evacuated from one of Spain's most popular tourist attractions, Barcelona's Sagrada Familia basilica, after an apparent arson attack.

Four people were treated for smoke inhalation after fire broke out in the sacristy of Antoni Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece.

A "disturbed" man was arrested after a group of tourists raised the alarm.

The basilica, a Unesco world heritage site, was later reopened.

Joan Rigol, the president of the Sagrada Familia's board of trustees, said the suspect had allegedly ignited priest's robes in the sacristy.

"He appears to be a disturbed man of around 55 who was found with several lighters in his pocket," he told journalists outside the church.

Image caption The Sagrada Familia receives more than two million visitors a year

Barcelona's mayor, Jordi Hereu, who rushed to the basilica after the fire, said: "The structure has not suffered any damage, but there was damage to furniture."

The Sagrada Familia, which receives more than two million visitors a year, was a church until it was consecrated as a basilica by Pope Benedict XVI during a visit to Barcelona last November.

Gaudi was a devout Catholic who spent decades working on the project after construction began in 1882. He died in 1926.

Architects estimate the basilica will need 15 years' more work before it is finally finished.

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