On this day…..7 years ago, the world’s deadliest ever supermarket fire killed around 400 people at Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. The food court at the Ycua Bolanos store was packed with families when there was an enormous gas explosion.
The blaze spread through the building at such speed it was said that firemen found cashiers sitting dead at their tills. Some shoppers were burned alive in the underground car park, while other victims were found hugging each other in the store.
Allegations surfaced that fire exits had been locked, and in December 2006, the owner of the store, his son and a security guard were each gaoled for five years, but the verdicts were followed by a riot, as families of the victims complained furiously at what they considered the undue leniency of the sentences.
At a re-trial just over a year later, the owner’s sentence was increased to 12 years, his son got 10 years, while the security guard’s five year sentence was confirmed. In addition, a shareholder who had been present when the fire started was gaoled for two and a half years, while the building’s architect spent two years under house arrest.