At least 17 people have died and 12 others have been injured in a fire at a drug rehabilitation clinic in Ecuador, authorities have said.
Officials said the blaze took hold after patients set mattresses on fire in a bid to escape the facility in Guayaquil – the country’s biggest city.
Police chief Tania Varela said the centre lacked the necessary permits required to operate. Makeshift treatment facilities are common in the South American nation.
In a statement, the Guayaquil fire department said: “We regret the loss of 17 human lives in this tragedy, and we reject the negligence of the owners.”
Officers are hoping to question the owners and operators of the rehabilitation facility.
A tweet translated from Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno read: “My fraternal embrace and endearing solidarity with the relatives of the victims of the fatal fire in Guayaquil.
“Those responsible have already been detained. We will not allow the death of innocents to remain in impunity. The government is with you!”
Domenica Tabacchi, the vice mayor of Guayaquil, expressed her solidarity with the families affected.
In a translated tweet, she wrote: “I deeply regret the tragedy that occurred today in the suburb of Guayaquil.
“My solidarity and support for the relatives of the victims killed in the fire.”