LIMA – The death toll has risen to 27 in the fire that erupted on the weekend at a center for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts in the Peruvian capital.
One of the people injured in the blaze and being treated at a Lima hospital died, the Attorney General’s Office said Sunday.
So far, authorities have identified 25 of the dead in Saturday’s fire and two other unidentified bodies are in the morgue.
One of the dead, identified as Joel Hinojosa Bastidas, had been admitted to the “Cristo es amor” (Christ is love) rehab center just two hours before the fire broke out, Radio Programas del Peru, or RPP, reported.
One survivor of the blaze, identified as Gianfranco Huertas, told RPP radio that some of the residents on the first floor set some rags on fire to demand they be allowed to leave the facility.
“They wanted to escape and they began hurling burning rags because the door was locked,” Huertas, who escaped unharmed along with another group of people who leaped from the second floor, said.
A total of 22 people died of smoke inhalation at the scene and the other five died later in hospitals where they had been taken to be treated for their injuries, fire chief Antonio Zavala said.
Twelve other people were injured and several firefighters and a police officer suffered varying degrees of bumps and bruises while responding to the emergency, Zavala said.
“No one suffered burn injuries. Most died of asphyxiation. We fulfilled our duty as firefighters to rescue the victims, but the doors were completely locked,” he added.
There were about 60 people being housed at the facility, despite that fact that all reports indicate that it had been closed twice because it reportedly lacked the required permits, area residents said.
The rehab center was located in the densely populated San Juan de Lurigancho district of eastern Lima, where some 1.5 million people live.