At least 19 Guyana school children were killed in a fire when a female student reportedly set a dormitory ablaze after her cell phone was seized by a teacher, according to the police in the Mahdia state.
The police, in a statement on Wednesday, said the fire that engulfed the Mahdia Secondary School’s female dormitory killed over 18 girls and a young boy in the South American country.
“Police investigations so far into Sunday night’s deadly fire at Mahdia, which claimed the lives of 19 persons, reveal that a female student is suspected of having set the devastating fire because her cellular phone was taken away by the dorm’s mother and a teacher,” the police statement said.
“Officials were first alerted to the blaze at 10:15 p.m. local time on Sunday. Firefighters arrived to find the building already engulfed in flames, but were able to rescue around 20 students by breaking down part of the building’s north-eastern wall.
“It took firefighters over three hours to control the blaze. The fire began while students were asleep in the dormitory, where several were awakened by screams.
“They saw fire/smoke in the bathroom area, which quickly spread in the building, causing several students to receive burns to their bodies and smoke inhalation,” the police statement said.
“At the time of the fire, there were 57 female students in the dormitory which is a flat concrete building measuring about 100 feet by 40 feet, with barred windows,” it added.
Authorities say the school is at the center of the Guyanese government’s push to improve the education level in the less developed part of the country, and mostly served indigenous children.
The Guyanese President, Mohamed Ifran Ali, has declared three days of national mourning in response to the deadly fire.
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