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At least one dead and 8,500 voting devices destroyed in fire at Paraguay’s electoral authority

On Thursday, a fire of significant proportions broke out in one of the warehouses of the central headquarters of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Paraguay (TSJE) in the capital.

The fire has so far claimed one person’s life; an official named Aníbal Ortiz, who had been reported missing hours earlier by his relatives.

In addition, at least 8,500 electronic voting devices were rendered unusable by the flames and the collapse of the building.

At least one dead in fire at warehouse of Paraguay's electoral authority. (Photo internet reproduction)
At least one dead in fire at warehouse of Paraguay’s electoral authority. (Photo internet reproduction)

These elements were to be used in the simultaneous internal elections of political parties, movements, and alliances on Dec. 18 to elect candidates for president and vice president of the republic, senators, deputies, and governors, among others.

According to a report by the Paraguayan National Police, the lifeless body was found by volunteer firefighters in the block affected by the fire, where the said official had disappeared.

According to the firefighters, the remaining TSJE officials managed to leave the area in time, while another person who had been reported missing was found unharmed by police.

For unknown reasons, the fire had broken out in the same warehouse where the voting machines were stored.

Due to the extent of the fire, the Paraguayan Volunteer Fire Department declared a “major emergency,” and a total of 23 companies from the Central Department were summoned.

The area of influence of the building was evacuated due to the dense smoke and the risk of the fire spreading.

After three hours of intensive work, the fire department extinguished the flames.

The president of the TSJE, Jaime Bestard, told the media that the incident would not change the schedule for the elections to be held at the same time.

However, he did not rule out the possibility of splitting the internal elections by party or extending the election deadline.

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