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Jan 30, 2012

After deadly fire, Peru urged to probe drug centers

Davao Tours B | Jan 30, 2012

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LIMA(AFP) - Social groups pressed Peru's government Sunday to investigate the safety and licensing of more than 200 drug treatment centers a day after a deadly fire in an unlicensed facility claimed 27 lives.

"In Peru, there are more than 260 centers called 'treatment communities' but only 20 percent of them have licenses and trained staff," said Milton Rojas, who leads the drug abuse and prevention group CEDRO.

In this South American nation of almost 30 million, Rojas said there are some 800,000 who have alcoholism while another 60,000-100,000 have drug addiction.

"We are going to investigate whether people were put in that center against their will, and what kind of treatment they received, and if they were subject to abuse," said Malena Pineda, from the national ombudsman's office's handicapped people's program.

Fire swept through a three-floor drug rehabilitation center Saturday in a busy, poor area of Lima, killing at least 27 people and injuring several others who were trapped inside, authorities said.

The iron doors to the "Christ is Love" center were locked, preventing many residents from escaping, said Fire Department commandant Antonio Zavala, explaining the high death toll.

Owner Raul Garcia Albornoz, 45, fled and was being sought by police.

Some relatives of patients said patients at the unlicensed facility were often treated poorly and tied up.

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