At least 17 dead and a dozen injured in Ecuador clinic fire

At least 18 people have died in a fire at a rehab clinic in Ecuador, according to reports.

A further 12 have been injured in the blaze at a drug rehabilitation centre, authorities have said.

It started when patients set mattresses alight in a bid to try and escape, according to Tania Varela, the chief of police in the area.

Seventeen people were found dead in the building, while another person died in hospital, according to Radio Santafe.

Initial reports in Ecuador claim the people who died were locked inside a room.

It happened in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, authorities said.

Ecuador’s President, Lenin Moreno, wrote on Twitter: "Those responsible have already been arrested. We will not allow the death of innocents to remain unpunished."

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, the Guayaquil fire department said in a statement: “We regret the loss of 17 human lives in this tragedy, and we reject the negligence of the owners."

Province governor Raúl Ledesma said there were between 30 and 40 people inside the building when the fire broke out.

One survivor claimed people got out by breaking down the wall.

Vice President Otto Sonnenholzer said a review of operating conditions for clinics would be carried out as a result of the tragedy.

Several patients were taken to hospital with burns.

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