The last day of carnival came the tragedy. Seven young people trying to overcome their drug addiction in a clandestine clinic in Ecuador died in a fire. They were locked up in an alleged detoxification center that operated without permits in a house in the suburb of Guayaquil. On Q and 17th streets, the fire began late Tuesday afternoon, killing seven inmates between the ages of 18 and 25. They could not escape the flames or be rescued. The clinic has already been closed.
The neighbors tried to put out the fire with the water from the inflatable pools that proliferate on the sidewalks of the most populous neighborhoods during the four days of carnival. Although some of the patients of the illegal clinic were able to be evacuated in time -five injured were admitted to the hospital-, the bodies of the seven deceased remained in the morgue this Wednesday, the first school day after the bridge, waiting for their relatives They will identify them.
A foundation with the letterhead Join Life It functioned as a screen for the detoxification center that today collects closing stamps from the Fire Department and the Municipality of Guayaquil after the fire. Before the event and the closure, there were about 30 inmates who were prohibited from leaving to overcome their addictions to alcohol and drugs. One of the deceased had voluntarily confined himself, although these types of clandestine clinics are often visited by desperate relatives who leave their relatives isolated until they pass the withdrawal syndrome, despite the “latent danger” that, according to firefighters, these centers represent without control.
No version of how the fire started has been made official, but the emergency teams attribute it to the fact that one of the inmates undergoing treatment caused the fire with a mattress precisely to force his escape. “We found that in a left wing there is no escape route, it is where the burned people have been located,” the head of the public agency that controls this type of clinic told the local newspaper The universe. According to Guillermo del Pozo, director of sanctioning processes in the Guayaquil area, the clinic failed to comply with sanitary regulations, did not properly handle waste and was not registered with the Ministry of Social Inclusion or the Service Quality Assurance Agency. Health and Prepaid Medicine.
This entity supervises that these types of spaces have the permits and serve people with addictions with the appropriate facilities, personnel and policies. According to the agency report, in the Guayaquil clinic there were six rooms on the ground floor of the establishment. “All with windows with bars and the lock on the doors from the outside,” the report describes. It even points to overcrowding. The owners of the house or those responsible for the foundation fled and have not appeared so far.
Each cramped bedroom had multiple mattresses and bunk beds that ended up burned and sooty. There was also, according to the report, a kind of punishment room of one square meter with a steel door where the inmates were left locked up for an indefinite period of time. Despite the closure of the center, Del Pozo reproaches citizens for not denouncing these establishments that open again and again in other parts of the city every time they are dismantled. Last year, there were about twenty closure interventions and, in December, another person with addiction problems was found dead in another irregular center in Guayaquil. In 2019, also in a clinic in the Guayaquil suburb, 18 people who were in treatment for addictions died in a fire. “We will not allow this to continue,” promised the governor of the province at the time: “We are going to regulate or close.”
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