A district attorney has confirmed that three women and one man died Wednesday morning in a fire at the Larcomar entertainment mall in Miraflores.
The fire began at around 9:45am in one of the UVK cinema theatres where a press preview was being held to launch “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
The victims all worked at the multiplex cinema.
Earlier in the day, fire chief Anselmo Hurtado had reported that five people had died, four men and one woman and that 13 people were being reported as missing. By late evening, reports no longer mentioned missing victims.
“This regrettable event requires a profound investigation,” said President Pablo Kuczynski when he expressed his condolences and solidarity to the victims’ families.
Interior minister Carlos Basombrio said the fire bore no relation to the APEC Summit being held in Lima this week. His comment followed an earlier Tweet by Fujimorista Martha Chavez, who described the fire as “bad luck or terrorist sabotage.”
At noon, six people sent a message via Whatsapp to their co-workers, asking to be rescued from a room further inside. Firefighters said access was difficult to the basement and the theatre, on the fourth and lowest level of the complex, where the smoke was heavy. Smoke extractors were being used to clear the area.
The cause of death of the victims was asphyxiation, according to the fire chief, Anselmo Hurtado. Some Larcomar workers were believed to be in the projection room, to which access was still difficult at noon today.
One witness said that the sprinkler system had failed, but the fire chief would not confirm that. He also discounted that the fire might have been intentional but said the police were in charge of the investigation. Another witness told RPP Radio that the evacuation gates in the cinema area were electronically closed.
The thick smoke affected the nearby apartment buildings and the Marriott Hotel, where many of the international leaders are staying for the 24th APEC Summit meetings being held this week in Lima.
Larcomar, built 18 years ago, is a trendy complex of restaurants, bars, two discos, a theatre, multiplex cinemas and tourist shopping stores that overlooks the sea and the Costa Verde strip of beaches.
This story has been corrected to reflect the statement given by the District Attorney Janet Bernal to the press. We originally reported the death of five victims, as reported by several news sources three hours after the fire broke out.