Fire at landless workers' movement camp in Brazil leaves nine dead

  • World
  • Monday, 11 Dec 2023

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - A fire in a camp belonging to Brazil's Landless Workers' Movement MST in the northern state of Para killed nine people and left eight injured on Saturday night, the movement said on Sunday.

The incident was caused by a short circuit in the electrical network during the installation of internet wiring in the rural farmers' camp, located in the city of Parauapebas, according to MST.

Community leaders told a press conference that the short circuit happened at around 8 p.m. local time, when an antenna touched the high-voltage network, setting fire to power cables and some shacks in the camp.

Among the nine dead, six were residents of the camp and three were workers from the internet company.

Eight other people were injured and taken to a hospital, seven of them have already been discharged, and one remains hospitalized with second-degree burns but is not at risk of death.

According to the MST, the fire was later contained by the local fire brigade.

MST fights for land distribution in Brazil, sometimes occupying areas it says are not producing anything and then seeking its expropriation by the government.

The camp is close, but, according to the movement, does not occupy a 60,000-hectare (150,000-acre) farm in the region that they argue it is the product of land grabbing.

Members of the camp said at Sunday's press conference that they are already receiving government aid, such as water and food distribution and funeral help.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva asked his agrarian development minister, Paulo Teixeira, and head of lands rights agency Incra, Cesar Aldrighi, to travel to the city this Sunday to "follow the case closely and bring all the support of the federal government to the families of the victims of this tragedy", the government said in a statement.

(Reporting by Luana Maria Benedito; Writing by Peter Frontini; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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