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Identification of Paraguay Fire Victims Continues - 2004-08-04

In Paraguay, dozens of people are still unaccounted for after Sunday's devastating supermarket fire that left more than 400 dead.

Six men have been charged with manslaughter in connection with the fire that swept through a suburban Asuncion supermarket on Sunday, killing more than 400 people.

The charges came after testimony from a supermarket security guard who said he was ordered to lock the doors of the building after the fire began, to minimize the risk of looting.

Supermarket co-owner Juan Pio Paiva denies the charges and told reporters that his conscience is clear.

Officials believe the fire was started by a gas leak from inside the three-story building. Part of the roof collapsed shortly after the fire began, crushing and trapping people as they tried to escape.

Meanwhile, recovery efforts continue inside the building, but officials contend that the intensity of the blaze may make it impossible to ever recover all the bodies, many of which were incinerated in the fire.

Forensic experts from throughout Latin America have arrived in Asuncion to take on the difficult task of identifying the remains of the victims.

Doctors are asking relatives of the dead and missing to bring dental records and X-rays to help identify their loved ones.

The city's cemeteries have been inundated with funeral requests.

Condolence calls have been pouring in from all over the world. The United Nations and other international aid agencies have pledged support to help Paraguay cope with the aftermath of the fire, which was the deadliest in the country's history.