SANTIAGO – At least 10 elderly women died early Tuesday in a fire at a nursing home in the southern Chilean town of Chiguayante, officials said.
Officials are investigating the cause of the fire, which started at 3:30 am in one of Casa de Reposo Santa Marta’s pavilions in Biobio region, located some 530 kilometers (330 miles) south of Santiago.
Several victims were handicapped and had limited mobility, officials said.
“We have 10 people dead,” Biobio Gov. Jorge Ulloa, who is a volunteer firefighter and joined the operation to control the blaze, told reporters.
The facility had 42 senior residents, of whom 13, all women, were in the area where the fire started.
Only three of the women managed to escape and one was admitted to a hospital with burns on her legs.
Jose Garrido, the facility’s watchman, set off the alarm. He told Radio Cooperativa that he heard “a loud noise” before the fire started.