Rehab Fire Horror in Peru

By Valerie Tejeda 01/30/12

Peru's rehab scene is under fierce scrutiny after 28 deaths at an unauthorized, locked facility in Lima.

Trauma for relatives in Lima on Saturday
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A fire at a drug and alcohol rehab on Saturday in Lima, Peru has killed 28 people. The firefighters had to use electric saws to cut through the bars to get to the residents, who were locked inside like prisoners. The unlicensed and overcrowded facility, called “Christ is Love,” used Biblical teachings to help treat people with drug and alcohol dependencies. All the dead appeared to be male, and according to Peru’s fire chief Antonio Zavala, most died of asphyxiation. Most of the bodies seen by journalists on the scene were shirtless and shoeless. The total number of people inside the rehab at the time of the fire is still unclear. The center's owner has now handed himself in to the police, having fled the scene after the tragedy, and authorities are investigating whether the occupants had been subject to abuse. Unconfirmed speculation suggests that a fight between residents caused the fire. "This rehabilitation center wasn't authorized,” says Health Minister Alberto Tejada. “It was a house that they had taken over...for patients with addictions and they had the habit of leaving people locked up with no medical supervision.” More regulation for Peru's rehabs is being called for in the wake of the disaster.

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Entertainment journalist and author Valerie Tejeda spends her days reporting on books, television, and all things pertaining to pop culture, and spends her nights writing novels for teens. Her stories have appeared on a variety of different publications, including but not limited to: VanityFair, MTV, The Huffington Post, TeenVogue, She Knows, Latina, The Fix,, Cosmopolitan, and more. You can find Valerie on Linkedin and Twitter.