At least four dead in mall fire in Peru before global summit

Firemen work on the blaze at Larcomar mall in Lima, Nov 16, 2016.
Firemen work on the blaze at Larcomar mall in Lima, Nov 16, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

LIMA (REUTERS) - At least four people died in a fire in a movie theater at a popular seaside mall in Lima on Wednesday (Nov 16), ahead of a global summit bringing together presidents from the United States, Russia, China, Japan and other countries this week.

The victims appeared to be two men and two women, but the bodies were so charred that it would be hard to determine their sex and identities with certainty, Police General Hugo Begazo said on local broadcaster RPP. Begazo added that 13 people were missing at the Larcomar shopping center.

Larcomar, managed by Chilean company Parque Arauco SA , put out a statement, saying the fire was in the movie theater and the causes are under investigation.

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said on Twitter that he lamented the tragedy and said it merited a thorough investigation.

Firefighters were working to find several missing people, said Miguel Eduardo Yi, a fire department chief in Lima.

At least one firefighter was carried away on a stretcher as black smoke continued to billow from the open air mall that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, a Reuters witness said.

US President Barack Obama was scheduled to stay at a hotel in front of the mall during the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that Peru is hosting this week, local media reported. The White House declined to comment.

The British embassy in Lima, less than a block from the mall, was closed due to a fire in its vicinity, the British government said in a statement.

Obama and other world leaders were scheduled to arrive in Peru between Thursday and Friday.