10 elderly women killed in blaze at Chile nursing home

SANTIAGO – A fire at a private nursing home in southern Chile has claimed the lives of 10 elderly women.

The fire broke out Tuesday between 3:30 and 4:30 a.m. local time at the Santa Maria Nursing Home in Chiguayante, a city in Chile’s Biobio region, according to Governor Jorge Ulloa.

The victims were sleeping at that time, according to police, who are investigating the causes of the blaze.

The facility, called Santa Marta, hosted a total of 42 people. Due to the state in which the bodies were found, the victims -found during the debris removal process- will be identified via DNA testing.

Another three people who were also in the wing that caught fire managed to escape.

Following the tragedy, President Sebastián Piñera visited the site, located some 530 km south of the capital Santiago, accompanied by other officials, including the national director of the country’s elderly services, Octavio Vergara.

Pinera said proposed pension reforms would include “a special chapter to help the elderly, especially those who cannot care for themselves.”

He noted, “In Chile, we increasingly have more elderly people.”

Chilean Social Development Minister Alfredo Moreno said the home had “all of its regulations and records up to date,” so authorities would wait for the police to conclude their investigation into the causes of the fire.

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