A “horrific” school dormitory fire in Guyana claimed the lives of at least 19 children, shocking the nation and prompting the president to call for three days of national mourning.
The Guyana Department of Public Information (DPI) has revised down its initial death toll of 20 victims from the fire that destroyed the female dormitory at Mahdia Secondary School, reporting that 18 girls and one boy perished.
According to the DPI, five more people passed away in the hospital and 13 girls and a boy perished in the dorms.
Officials from the police and fire department agree that the fire was “maliciously set.” A concrete and timber building with five doors and grill windows was home to 56 children at the time of the fire, according to reports, a police spokesperson stated during a press conference.
“Initial investigation suggests, as reported by the fire department, that it (the fire) was maliciously set. Our investigation is continuing, and tests will be done expeditiously on the remaining bodies,” a spokesperson said.
The DPI did not provide information regarding the exact number of injured due to the fire, but it did state that “of those injured, six children were medevacked to Georgetown in the wee hours of the morning, while 17 are in the Mahdia Hospital.”
The blaze was originally reported to authorities on Sunday around 10:15 p.m. local time, the police spokesperson said.
“The point of origin was identified as the southwestern end of the building. After we completed our initial investigation, the scene was handed over to the Mahdia police force,”a firefighter department spokesperson said at the same press conference on Monday.
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