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Fire Victims Believed to be from Coastal Region With AM-Social Club Fire, Bjt

March 27, 1990

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) _ Hondurans jammed phone lines Monday seeking news of relatives in New York City following a weekend fire that killed 87 people at a Bronx social club.

The government expressed regret over the death of the victims, most of them Hondurans and Dominicans, and instructed its ambassador to gather information for relatives.

Gov. Dylia Chirinos de Diaz said most of the Hondurans were from coastal towns in Colon province.

″The majority of them traveled to the United States in search of a better way of life,″ said Edith Fajardo, a Honduran consular official in New York.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Eugenio Castro said the government was studying the possibility of sending a Honduran air force plane to bring back the bodies of the victims of the fire at the Happy Land social club.

Julio Cesar Castro of the northwestern city of San Pedro Sula said his 17- year-old daughter, Janeta Mercedes Castro, died in the early morning blaze.

″My daughter traveled to New York in search of better horizons, to save money and then return to her home in Honduras, but she only found death,″ he said.

She had been in New York for two years and was a maid for an American family, Castro said. He said she leaves a 2-year-old son who lives with him.

A Cuban man thrown out of the club after quarreling with his ex-girlfriend was arraigned Monday on arson and murder charges.

Hondurans seeking information on victims and the welfare of relatives crowded into telephone offices in Colon province.

Radio stations broadcast almost continual news of the fire and said they were receiving streams of calls seeking information on victims. Stations are a major means of communication in the country, which has a 57 percent illiteracy rate.

In New York, Miguel Reyes, coach of the Club Deportivo Adrana amateur soccer team, said three of its players, all from Puerto Cortes, a northwestern coastal town, were among the dead.

″They all dreamed of returning home - but with more money,″ Reyes said.

Reynaldo Colon Nunez, a Honduran living in New York, told the Tegucigalpa station Radio America by telephone that he normally would have been at the club himself.

″Nearly every Sunday I went to Happy Land to dance but yesterday I didn’t want to,″ he said.

Update hourly