LIMA – At least four people died and another was injured on Wednesday in a fire in the movie complex of a luxury mall catering largely to tourists in Lima, Peruvian authorities said.
The Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement that among the dead were two women – Soledad Oliveros and Sonia Repetto – and a man identified as Joel Condori, while the fourth body is that of a 30-year-old woman whom authorities are still trying to identify.
Public prosecutor Janet Bernal, the head of the Prosecutor’s Office in Lima’s Miraflores district, told local media that the bodies were found in the area of the theater, where the blaze broke out about 10 am.
The three people who have been identified all died of smoke inhalation and the as yet unidentified woman suffered burns that are making forensic specialists’ identification task difficult
The four fatalities were workers at the UVK Multicines multiple movie theater complex, and the firm released a statement expressing its regret over the tragedy and announcing the indefinite suspension of its operations in solidarity with the families of the victims.
Bernal commented that a final death toll cannot be established until investigators go through all the charred ruins of the complex to be sure there are no other bodies buried in the debris.
The injured person is a man about 60 who is suffering from smoke inhalation after trying to help other victims. He is being treated at the Jose Casimiro Ulloa Emergency Hospital.
At the time the blaze broke out, the theater was preparing to give a showing to the press of the film “Fantastic animals and where to find them,” but the other theaters were closed because the movie complex had not yet opened to the public for the day.
The flames destroyed three theaters and damaged several others, according to Peruvian Interior Minister Carlos Basombrio, who ruled out any connection between the incident and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum under way this week in the capital.
Basombrio said that the fire may have originated in some electrical system at the theater and that the flames spread rapidly in the sound insulation material, adding that at least it was good that the blaze occurred early in the day when the complex had only a few people inside.
The fire produced intense smoke that forced the evacuation of the Larcomar mall, built in 1998 on the Pacific coast right on the Miraflores cliffs, which made it difficult for fire crews to put out the blaze.
The smoke spread to nearby streets and into a luxury hotel where some of the people attending the economic summit are being housed.
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, in a message posted on the social networks, expressed his “deepest sorrow and solidarity with the families of the victims of the fire,” adding that “this regrettable incident demands a thorough investigation.”