Latin America & Caribbean

Peru fire destroys Lima school book warehouse


A fire at an educational materials warehouse in Peru has destroyed around 500,000 school textbooks and 60,000 laptop computers, officials say.

Firefighters battled for hours to control the blaze in the capital Lima.

Much of the lost material was intended for primary school children in poor rural areas.

The fire struck a week after the start of the new school year in Peru, but the books had not yet been distributed because of floods in some areas.

The losses amount to around 60% of the material for primary school children across Peru this year, officials said.

Most of the computers were low-cost models purchased from the US-based programme, One Laptop per Child.

The cause of the fire has not yet been established.

"I am absolutely furious over what has happened and I hope we get to the bottom of how this happened," Education Minister Patricia Salas said.

"The worst affected are the children in the rainforest regions of Peru, as we had delayed the distribution of textbooks there because of the rains," she added.

The lost materials were valued at more than $100m (£63m).

President Ollanta Humala said he would make sure that replacement books reached school children as soon as possible.

"We are going to solve this problem," he said.

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