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Six Charged in Paraguay Supermarket Fire

ASUNCION, Paraguay - The co-owner of a supermarket and four security guards were charged with manslaughter for a fire in a Paraguayan supermarket that killed at least 464 people, after a security guard testified he was ordered to lock the store's doors after the fire started, to prevent looting. A fifth security guard was charged with neglect.

The fire, which broke out Sunday in the Ycua Bolanos supermarket in a suburb of the capital city of Asuncion, was believed to have started in the three-story store's food court, and spread rapidly when a gas canister in the food court exploded. The intensity of the fire caused one floor to collapse onto the parking garage below, crushing cars and burning many bodies beyond recognition.

Co-owner Juan Pio Paiva rejected allegations that he was responsible for the fire, shouting as he was led to jail, "My conscience is clear!"

The charges were filed after a security guard testified that he was told via radio after the fire started to lock the doors to prevent looting.

At least 409 people remained hospitalized, with many in critical condition with severe burns and other injuries. So many funeral marches were held that mourners had to wait turns outside of cemeteries, and many florists ran out of flowers.
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