QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador’s president has vowed that the deaths of 17 people this past week at a drug rehabilitation clinic that was set ablaze by patients trying to escape would not go unpunished.
At least 12 others were injured in the fire on Friday after patients set fire to mattresses in an attempt to flee the clinic in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city.
“My fraternal embrace and endearing solidarity with the relatives of the victims of the fatal fire in Guayaquil,” President Lenín Moreno posted on Twitter on Friday. “ We will not allow the death of innocents to remain unpunished.”
The clinic did not have the required permits, according to Tania Varela, the chief of police in the area of the city where the fire broke out. Such makeshift treatment centers are common in the Andean country.
The Guayaquil Fire Department said there was evidence of negligence at the clinic, and the police were seeking the owners and operators of the clinic.
“We regret the loss of 17 human lives in this tragedy, and we reject the negligence of the owners,” the Fire Department said in a statement.
Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner said the government would “review the rules” governing the operation of such rehabilitation clinics.