Skip to comments.340 killed in inferno (Customers locked into burning supermarket)
Posted on 08/02/2004 8:01:29 AM PDT by Grig
Hundreds of people were left to die inside a blazing supermarket after security staff locked doors to prevent customers from running out without paying, it emerged today.
Initial reports suggested as many as 340 people were killed when the fire tore through a large shopping centre in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion after an industrial propane tank exploded.
Police have charged the store's owner Juan Pio Paiva and his son Daniel with homicide after they allegedly ordered security personnel to lock down every exit. Firefighters had to batter down the locked main entrance to the complex before they could reach hundreds of trapped shoppers.
Some survivors told local newspapers they were unable to open doors as they tried to flee the fire.
The death toll is expected to reach as high as 600. The fire has been called the worst tragedy to strike the country - one of Latin America's poorest - since war broke out against Bolivia in the 1930s.
Firefighters were hampered by the collapse of much of the huge Ycua Bolanos complex and by the dilapidated state of their equipment.
Local television showed firefighters trying to plug holes in leaking water hoses with the soles of their boots.
A chronic shortage of ambulances meant many survivors had to be taken to hospital on the back of pick-up trucks.
Local hospitals, which lack many of the most basic resources, were appealing to citizens to donate simple supplies such as gloves and bandages.
There were chaotic scenes at hospitals across the capital as police held back sobbing relatives desperate to search wards for survivors.
President Nicanor Duarte, who rushed to the scene with his wife,
said it was "a moment of huge grief and tension" for his country. Bodies so far recovered include a baby and a pregnant woman and dozens of children found near the supermarket's toy department.
One survivor, Victor Catan, who lost his wife in the blaze but escaped through the pitch black building with his young son, said: "The doors were shut. I managed to get out with my son, but my wife didn't make it."
Orlando Correa, who lost his sixmonthold nephew in the fire and was searching for his sister's body at the scene, said: "There are no words for this." Police chief Humberto-Nunez said rescue workers had been unable to reach many people inside "because of the ruins and the danger of collapse."
However one firefighter said some of the burned bodies were found inside the supermarket hugging each other.
Other victims were burned alive in their cars as the blaze swept though a parking lot underneath the supermarket.
The blaze broke out yesterday afternoon, one of the supermarket's busiest times, when people from all over the city traditionally headed to the complex to do their weekly shopping.
Thank goodnes for the public safety standards we employ in this country. (And our value of human life.)
We should send a bunch of our trial lawyers to Uraguay.
That'll fix 'em.
Sort of makes what is happening in Iraq with the Terrorists chump change.
Paco al Carbon redux ping.
Well, what I meant was things like doors on public buildings opening outwardly so that more people can get out quickly in the case of an emergency, well-equipped fire departments, and building codes that require adequate pathways.
"We should send a bunch of our trial lawyers to Uraguay. "
Kerry is having to restrain Edwards at this very moment.
Think of the kind of greed that would make a man lock the doors in a fire to keep people from paying. Just think about that for a minute.
Well, I know who gets my vote for the greediest bastard of the year.
Juan Pio Paiva, owner of the Ycua Bolanos supermarket, speaks on a mobile phone as he watches his building on fire on the outskirts of the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion, August 1, 2004. At least 215 people are confirmed dead and dozens more injured in the blaze which appears to have started from a gas explosion, trapping dozens of shoppers and workers inside. (PARAGUAY OUT) REUTERS
I know that's what you meant.
Unfortunately, trial lawyers are more likely to happen than something that actually benefits people.
The state of our current health care system is an obvious example. Good doctors are being driven out of the profession because trial lawyers have learned to milk the system.
Another reason, along with 1000 others, not to visit Paraguay.
And we've got two trial lawyers as candidates. This speaks volumes for the Dems.
John Edwards reporting for duty suit in hand.
Seriously though this is just horrible. What a disaster!
340 people? Tragic and apparently preventable. Prayers for the families of the lost.
This is where people like Jessica Lange, Alec Baldwin and Michael Moore need to live.
This is a heartwrenching story. And I hope the owner is charged with everyone's death.
He did it because he could.
"According to official reports, twenty-five (25) people died and another fourty-nine (49) were injuried as the result of a fire in the Imperial chicken processing plant in Hamlet, North Carolina yesterday. Witnesses, at the scene, described panicked workers as screaming, "Let me out!....Let me out!", as they tried to kick open doors that were reportedly padlocked by the plant management to prevent vandalism and theft. Footprint indentations were evident on the inside of at least one door, that was seen to be locked from the outside."
In this case, they are correct.
You can send all of them, and with my blessing, but the fire took place in Paraguay.
I guess these folks are just about 100 years behind the times.
unless you work at a chicken processing plant in arkansas as happened a few years ago
Okay, so you prevent customers from taking merchandise that was burned up anyway. Nice. Enjoy the flames in Hell.
Mr. John Edwards....white courtesy telephone, please!"
"Well, what I meant was things like doors on public buildings opening outwardly"
Not locking the doors after the fire broke out would've helped, too.
I wonder if they got the bills paid?
What a bunch of lunatics. Put this one in the same class as that story about the Saudi girls who burned to death in their school because they couldn't appear outside without a veil.
Very, very true. In some business's I've owned it's been expensive to comply with well thought out codes, but they are worth it. These two had their eye on the Peso, rather than their customers and their store, now they have lost all three.
I wonder when Latin America will ever get its act together. I fear it will be a long wait.
It's amazing isn't it? It's the only reason I use the term "Regulated Capitalism" to describe my business philosophy. In any country, any society, there really are people this greedy. However, it has been my personal experience that these same sort of people are usually Democrats.
Revolutions have started because of things like this. I can't think of a more horrific way to die.
Well....I wouldn't go that far...
Yes, and all this stems from respect for human life. Which is why religion, especially Christianity as it is more numerous, should be protected from attacks by the atheists. You may be surprised hearing this from a Jew, but I do believe that attacks on my fellow Christian Americans are allowed to continue, this country too will lose its goodness. We should never take this for granted: public policy is never better than the people that adopt it.
(You realize that 100 years from now somebody will be saying the same thing to somebody who lost or nearly lost a relative on 9-11 - and the response will be the same.)
Did you know your g-grandmother? I only knew one of mine, she lived to age 97.
I'm not. We're in this together. You are the children of the Lord by birthright - we're only children by adoption. And the Lord doesn't break his covenants. We owe you the respect that we owe our older brothers and sisters, even if we disagree on some points. ;-) And like family, when a murderous outsider attacks, we all stand together.
They will get their act together manana...what's the hurry, gringo? ;)
This reminds me of the 1942 Coconut Grove fire in Boston. There were lots of mistakes, but a couple of exit doors were bolted shut so people couldn't skip out on their bill. They had always been shut, even before the fire. Over 500 people died. The fire changed fire laws across the country. For example, many bodies were found piled at the entrance glass revolving doors as it had stopped working. Any time those door are in use today, there has to be a regular door on each side. Also, there were all sorts of flammable decorations to create the 'Coconut Grove' theme. Lots of straw, plastic, fake trees, etc. The fire started in a lounge when a 16-year old busboy was changing a lightbulb on the satin covered ceiling which caught fire and spread very quickly. He used a match because it was dark. Unfortunately, that ceiling was the dance floor for the club's upper level. People were dancing as the flames shot through the floor.
The Coconut Grove fire was responsible for revamping fire laws everywhere.
Ugh. You're probably right. You got me thinking. A 100 years ago, in this country, it wasn't the lawyers, but churches and civic minded women reformers who watchdogged public safety. That role has all but vanished. Too bad, really. We're political, and secular and very un-"civic".
Even if Paraguay had these building codes, all it would take is a pay-off to get someone to look the other way.
See mine #41.
Is Paraguay not a devoutly Christian nation?
I'm afraid you're probably right. You have to wonder sometimes. The French allow themselves to be ruled by legal elites. Latin America is rife with corruption and abuse of the lower classes. What allows their public to tolerate these abuses, when we have such a history working in another way?
That's just murder.
It must come from the same low down mentality that the Saudi police used several years ago when they locked dozens of young female students in a burning school because they were trying to escape without their headscarves. Almost demonic in its reckless disregard.
Is it true? The owner could not have locked all the doors himself without an electronic system; would the security guards be that far in the "ve vere only following orders" mode?
I wonder what the libertarian anarchists, who oppose any public regulations including those related to fire safety, think about this incident.
I think the best thing of all will be to pray.