Paraguay

Two more die after fire in Paraguay shopping centre

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Asuncion, Paraguay (dpa) - A fire at a shopping centre in Asuncion has claimed two more victims - a 5-year-old boy and a 77-year-old woman - raising the death toll to 364, an Paraguayan official said Monday.

Hugo Gomez, an official with the Health Emergency Committee of Paraguay, said the child, who had suffered burns over 50 per cent of his body, and the woman, who had a heart condition and diabetes, had died over the weekend, three weeks after the biggest civilian tragedy in recent Paraguayan history.

Gomez said 40 people continued to receive treatment at several hospitals in Asuncion and 11 remained in intensive care, three in grave condition.

According to Paraguayan authorities, 364 people were killed in the blaze on August 1 and 48 were reported as missing. Forty-two remains could not be identified although DNA samples have been sent for testing in Spain and results were still pending.

About 1,000 people were inside the building when the fire broke out. As flames tore through the supermarket, those inside were unable to flee because the doors had been ordered shut by owners to prevent shoppers making off with unpaid merchandise.

The Paraguayan prosecutor's office has found that doors were locked after the fire broke out, which also was confirmed by U.S., Argentine and Paraguayan experts.

The two owners, Juan Pio Paiva and Daniel Paiva, and four security guards were accused of aggravated homicide and co-owner Humberto Casaccia of failing to provide help. dpa am ls

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