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Posted: Tuesday 23 May, 2023 at 6:50 PM

School dorm fire in Guyana leaves 19 children dead

By: Staff Reporter,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - THE President of Guyana has declared three days of national mourning, as of yesterday (May 22), following the horrific death by fire of 19 children (including a five-year-old boy) in the heavily-grilled female dormitory of Madhia Secondary School in Region Eight.


    According to reports out of Georgetown, the fire erupted around 11:00 p.m. on Sunday (May 21) and ranks of the Guyana Fire Service received a call of it some 15 later, to which they immediately responded. 


    When the firefighters got there, the entire dormitory was engulfed in flames and it took them approximately three and a half hours to extinguish the flames.


    The firefighters had reportedly rescued 20 children by making holes in the north-eastern concrete wall of the building, but their efforts to rescue all were however in vain as 14 of them had already perished in the flames.


    Five of them died at the Mahdia District Hospital.


    Six children, in critical condition, were reportedly medicaced to the Georgetown Public Hospital for further treatment, while  five others were admitted at the Mahdia District Hospital and another 10 were placed in observation.


    Initially, the dormitory had accommodated 59 children, but, at the time of the inferno, three of them were at home for the weekend.


    The Guyana Police Force (GPF) reported that the fire was “maliciously set” and, according to media reports, it might have been done by a disgruntled female student who was disciplined for participating in unsanctioned activities and had her cell phone seized. 


    The GPF also reported that one of the students indicated that she was awakened by shouts and screams and, upon investigating, she found a fire lit in the bathroom. 


    While speaking at a media briefing, the Deputy Fire Chief (ag), Dwayne Scotland, also stated that arson was the cause of the fire.


    “The initial investigation by the Fire Service identified that the fire was maliciously set, also the point of origin was identified to the south western end of the building,”  Scotland told reporters.


    A number of local, regional and international partners have sent condolences to parents and the Government on the demise of the children.


    CARICOM Secretary General, Dr.  Carla Barnett in a media statement said: The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has received with great sorrow the shocking news of the fire at the high school in the Guyanese town of Mahdia, where a number of children died. We mourn with the families, friends and communities who are impacted by this horrifying event. On behalf of CARICOM, I extend sincere condolences to the Government and people of Guyana. We pray for a speedy recovery for those injured and otherwise impacted and offer the support of CARICOM Member States as the community returns to normalcy.”


    In his statement, Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Mininster, Gaston Browne said: “Our sympathies to my dear brother Irfaan, the government and people of Guyana on the devastating fire that injured and killed a number of school children. Our prayers are with you, as we continue to stand in solidarity with all the families, citizens and residents of Guyana.”


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