At least seven people died when a fire broke out in a large house near the office of Panama’s president, authorities and media outlets said Monday.
A woman and her daughter jumped from the building’s balcony to escape the flames but died later at a local hospital and the charred remains of five people were found Monday among the ruins of the house in the capital’s Old Town section, raising the death toll to seven, authorities said.
“There were two dead yesterday and five missing, but (the missing) were found dead, so we’re talking about seven (fatalities). I know that Sinaproc and the firefighters found the victims with (personnel) from the Medical Examiner’s Office,” the head of the Sinaproc civil protection service, Arturo Alvarado, said.
He added that he could not provide any details about the sex or age of the newly-found victims because he did not yet have such information at his disposal.
Housing Minister Edgardo Lasso said that 48 families lost everything in the blaze and another 10 families were evacuated from an adjacent house until the condition of the buildings can be evaluated.
The ruined building is privately owned and will probably not be repaired due to the extensive nature of the fire damage, Lasso told Channel 2 television in Panama City.
Meanwhile, a mother who lived there is awaiting information about one of her babies, who has been missing since Sunday night.
The fire forced dozens of tourists to be evacuated from nearby hotels, fire department officials said.
Firefighters have closed off access to the street where the destroyed building is located but the affected families are remaining in the area awaiting government aid.
The blaze, the cause for which is not yet known, was reported around 9 p.m. on Sunday by several passersby via the social networks, where they posted photos of the three-story house near the capital’s cathedral and said that they had heard several explosions there.