Ycuá Bolaños supermarket fire
Entrance of the Ycuá Bolaños V supermarket on August 1, 2006. Over three hundred people died in a fire at the market two years prior. Banners of protest demanding justice for the victims hang on the sides of the building.
|Time||11:25 UTC-4 (15:25 UTC)|
|Date||August 1, 2004|
The three-story Ycuá Bolaños V supermarket and commercial complex, which included a restaurant, offices, and an underground parking garage, caught fire, causing two explosions on the first floor. The fire burned for seven hours before firefighters were able to extinguish it. The final death toll was 394, including nine missing and nearly 500 injured. The cause was believed to be a faulty barbecue chimney that leaked hot flammable gases into the ceiling, which ignited.
Several survivors of the fire and volunteer firefighters alleged that, when the fire broke out, doors within the complex were deliberately closed under the direction of the owners, Juan Pío Paiva and his son, Víctor Daniel, trapping people inside, in order to prevent people from fleeing with merchandise without paying for it. The management of the shopping center denied the charge. Paiva, his son and a security guard surrendered to the police and were formally charged.
A major issue was that the complex lacked emergency exits and efficient fire protection systems. The architect of the complex and several municipal public servants responsible for the overseeing of commercial buildings were prosecuted as well.
On December 5, 2006, Juan Pío Paiva, Víctor Daniel Paiva and the security guard were convicted of involuntary manslaughter with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The prosecution however was seeking a 25-years-in-prison term. As the verdict was read, angry survivors and family members of the deceased started a violent demonstration inside the court room, which later spread onto the streets of Asunción. The prosecution demanded a retrial.
On February 2, 2008, a new court ruled that the trio committed negligent homicide. Juan Pío Paiva, president of the company, received a sentence of 12 years in prison. His son Víctor Daniel Paiva, present at the start of the fire, was sentenced to 10 years in jail. Security guard Daniel Areco, who closed the doors, was condemned to 5 years in prison. Additionally, shareholder Humberto Casaccia, also present at the start of the fire, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for endangering people in the work place. Architect Bernardo Ismachowiez, who both designed and built the complex, spent two years in house arrest for "dangerous activities in construction".
|Wikinews has related news: Sentences handed down over Paraguay's worst fire|
- "Blaze witnesses claim doors ordered shut". The Sydney Morning Herald. August 2, 2004. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
- Daniela Desantis (December 5, 2006). "Violence erupts over Paraguay fire verdict". Reuters. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
- "Paraguay supermarket owners jailed after deadly fire". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. February 3, 2008. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
- "Confirman condena a constructor del Ycuá Bolaños". ABC Color (in Spanish). August 28, 2009. Retrieved April 19, 2013.