19 children dead in Guyana school fire, arson suspected
A fire in the central Guyana mining town of Mahdia claimed the lives of at least 19 children, according to officials. The blaze erupted just after midnight on Monday, engulfing a secondary school dormitory and trapping students inside.
Emergency services are facing difficulties in containing the fire due to adverse weather conditions, as stated by the government. Early investigations by the police indicate that the fire may have been started deliberately, though no suspects have been identified yet. Prior reports had indicated a slightly higher death toll, with at least 20 lives lost.
Several individuals have been injured, and preparations are being made to evacuate some to the capital, Georgetown, where a special centre has been established. Guyanese President Irfaan Ali expressed his grief.
“This is a major disaster. It is horrible, it is painful.”
Ali was quoted by AFP as saying that Georgetown’s two major hospitals would be prepared, along with medical teams stationed at the airport, “so that every single child who requires attention be given the best possible opportunity to get that attention.”
Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn is currently at the scene of the disaster, with the prime minister and other government officials en route, reported BBC News.
The government’s Department of Public Information released a statement. It said…
“It is with a heavy heart and pain that the Cabinet is being briefed and kept updated on a horrific fire at the dormitory in Mahdia. All efforts are being made to have a full-scale medical evacuation-supported response.”
Guyana is situated between Venezuela and Suriname on the northern coast of South America.
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