A Tragedy Deepens

Too low. The death toll from a devastating fire last Feb. 25 in the shantytown—or favela—of Vila Soco, in the southern Brazilian town of Cubatao, was simply too low. Only 86 bodies were recovered after a gasoline-fed blaze exploded into a giant fireball that looked like an atomic mushroom cloud. Yet some 9,000 people lived in Vila SocÓ, a patchwork of wooden shacks built on stilts over a marshy swamp. Coroner Carlos Affonso Figueiredo found it strange that no bodies of children under five years of age had been discovered among the ashes and in the hot rubble that burned...

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