By Marco Aquino
LIMA (Reuters) - The general manager of the McDonald's operating firm in Peru has said in an interview with local TV that the drinks supply machine at the fast food restaurant where two employees died by electrocution last weekend was suffering from an electrical fault.
José Andrade, general manager of Arcos Dorados Peru, which has the McDonald's franchise, said that the managers of the restaurant where the deaths occurred did not report the fault to the company´s maintenance department. "The information, unfortunately, that the machine was not working and giving people shocks was only known within the local managers and was not escalated so that immediate action could be taken," he told the Peruvian television station Canal N on Friday night.
The employees, Alexandra Porras, 18, and Carlos Campo, 19, were electrocuted on Sunday in Pueblo Libre, a district of the capital, while cleaning the kitchen, police said.
Arcos Dorados, which owns and operates McDonald's Corp restaurants throughout Latin America, said on Wednesday it had shut all 29 of the McDonald's Peru restaurants it operates to conduct safety inspections following a two-day mourning period.
"Based on our internal investigations, what we have been able to determine is that at least 24 hours before this happened, it was known that the machine was presenting problems," said Andrade.
"At the restaurant level, what they ought to have done is to stop using the machine, and even disconnect it," said Andrade.
Relatives of the victims have called for a citizen protest against McDonald's on Saturday afternoon.
Prosecutors are already investigating the deaths, while criticisms of fast food chains and the debate about working conditions in the country are growing on social media and in protests. The two victims were a couple and had worked in the restaurant for several months, according to their families. "This has hit us all very hard and what we are doing at the moment is working hard to review all our processes, all our protocols to ensure that such a thing does not happen again," said Andrade.
A spokesman for Arcos Dorados did not immediately respond to the claims by its general manager.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino; writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)