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280 Dead in Paraguay Supermarket Fire - 2004-08-02


Fire at a crowded supermarket complex in Paraguay has killed more than 280 people and injured over 100 others.

Authorities say gas canisters exploded beneath a food court at midday Sunday, and flames spread quickly through the (Ycuá Bolańos) shopping center on the outskirts of Asunción, the capital (of the South American nation).

Thick smoke spread through the multilevel complex, and parts of the building collapsed onto a parking garage. Rescuers worked for hours to carry victims out of the smoldering wreckage.

Paraguay's president (Nicanor Duarte), who visited the scene, declared three days of national mourning (beginning Monday). The government appealed for medical supplies (from Paraguay's neighbors) to help treat burn victims.

Police investigating the fire have detained two of the supermarket's owners.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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