May 20, 2013
Fire kills 26 patients at rehab centre in Peru
At least 26 people died and twelve were injured today, after a fire broke out in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in the district of San Juan de Lurigancho in Lima, the Health minister in Peru, Alberto Tejada informed.
“Up to now we have been informed of 22 deaths on site,” Tejada confirmed earlier this afternoon. The government official then stated that the other four people that died in two different hospitals.
At the same time, another member of the Health Ministry, Javier Correa, explained that many of those injured, “were in a critical condition.”
Several survivors said the blaze was started by two patients who wanted to break out of the private "Christ is Love" center in the capital Lima.
"Some inmates wanted to escape and they set fire to some cloths and started throwing them at the manager's office, and then it caught fire inside," said patient Wilmer Garcia.
Most of the victims were thought to have died from smoke inhalation.
Lima Mayor Susana Villaran said the center lacked a municipal licence and that "drastic action" was needed to prevent similar incidents in the Andean country.
"This is a great tragedy," she told local radio. "Families hand over relatives who are suffering drug and alcohol addiction so they can be rehabilitated and often they're desperate. These places must be supervised by the Health Ministry and municipal authorities."
Firefighters and prosecutors have opened investigations into the cause of the fire.