Flames swept through a high-rise Caracas office building housing the Chilean Embassy, killing at least 15 people Monday, officials here reported. The Chilean ambassador to Venezuela, Carlos de Costa Nora, was missing and presumed dead.
The fire erupted in the afternoon in the 14-story Cemica Tower, in the Chacao business district of eastern Caracas.
Two Chilean diplomats--identified by the embassy as Miguel Angel Ortega Urrea, an embassy assistant, and Ernesto Jose Alcaino, in charge of protocol, jumped to their deaths from the burning office building. Nine bodies burned beyond recognition were recovered from embassy offices. The bodies of four other victims were found in other parts of the large office complex.
Authorities said other employees of the embassy could be among those killed in the blaze.
At least seven people who climbed to the top of the building were plucked from a rooftop water tank by a police helicopter. The fire raged for several hours while many members of the Caracas diplomatic community gathered near the 14-story building and waited for word on the fate of the Chileans.