The owner of a Quito restaurant where two people died this week in a gas explosion has been charged with manslaughter, according to prosecutors.
The owner, a Chinese citizen, is being held without bond and his bank accounts have been frozen, said prosecutor Thania Moreno at a Thursday press conference. The owner’s name has not yet been released by police.
A seven-year-old boy and an 82-year-old woman were killed and a dozen other people injured when a gas cylinder of the second floor of the restaurant exploded shortly before midnight on Christmas Eve.
Speaking alongside Moreno, Quito fire chief Eber Arroyo said the investigation revealed that a station for refilling domestic gas cylinders had been set up on the second floor of the establishment. Refilling is illegal in Ecuador unless it is performed by authorized gas dealers.
The working theory, Arroyo said, is that a spark ignited an accumulation of gas, leading to the explosion and subsequent fire, the chief said.
Firefighters found 44 gas cylinders on the second floor. All but 11 of those cylinders were for domestic use rather than the industrial-grade model that restaurants are required to use, prosecutors said.