At least four dead in mall fire in Peru before global summit

At least four people died in a fire in a movie theater at a popular seaside mall in Lima on Wednesday, authorities said, ahead of a global summit bringing together presidents from the United States, Russia, China and Japan this week.

The government of Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said the fire at the Larcomar shopping center appears to have been started by a short circuit.

The victims appeared to be two men and two women, but the bodies were so charred that it would be hard to determine their sex and identities with certainty, Police General Hugo Begazo said on local broadcaster RPP.

Interior Minister Carlos Basombrio said on RPP that sound-proof walls in the mall's movie theater appeared to be made of flammable materials that allowed the fire to spread rapidly.

Kuczynski said on Twitter that he lamented the tragedy and said the incident merited a thorough investigation.

Larcomar, managed by Chilean company Parque Arauco SA, said it was cooperating fully with authorities and would close the mall for two days.

At least one firefighter was carried away on a stretcher as smoke billowed from the open air mall that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, a Reuters witness said.

US President Barack Obama was scheduled to stay at a hotel in front of the mall during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, local media reported. The White House declined to comment.

The British embassy in Lima, less than a block from the mall, closed due to a fire in its vicinity, the British government said in a statement.

Obama and other world leaders were scheduled to arrive in Peru between Thursday and Friday to attend APEC, an annual gathering of heads of state aimed at promoting trade liberalization in the Asia-Pacific region.