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Teenager accused of starting deadly fire in Guyana is charged with murder

What was once a school dormitory in the Guyanese town of Mahdia became a barren landscape of charred concrete and ash after a fire tore through it on May 21. Twenty children perished or died after the fire which started shortly before midnight.

Prosecutors say a 15-year-old student is responsible for starting the fire, alleging that in a fit of anger over the confiscation of her phone, she started a fire in the bathroom, the report reported. ‘Associated Press. The girl, who has not been publicly identified, was charged in adult court on Monday with 19 counts of murder, according to the outlet. She has not yet entered a plea.

On Tuesday, the Guyanese government announced that a 14-year-old girl had died from her injuries at a hospital in Georgetown, the nation’s capital, raising the death toll from 19 to 20. It is unclear whether another charges will be filed against the teenager. respondent.

The 15-year-old suspect was also injured in the fire. After her recovery, she was taken into custody at the juvenile detention center – from where she appeared virtually in a hearing on Monday before Magistrate Sunil Scarce at the Diamond Magistrates’ Court, the Guyana Chronicle reported. She will remain in custody until her next court appearance in July.

At least 19 children have died in a fire that engulfed a school dormitory overnight in Guyana, authorities said on May 22. (Video: Reuters)

Mahdia Secondary School – located in a central mountain town about 200 miles from the South American nation’s capital – was a government boarding school serving mainly students from remote indigenous communities. On May 21, a Sunday, some 57 female students between the ages of 12 and 18 were in rooms that had been locked by the dormitory administrator to prevent them from sneaking out, according to the AP.

“She did it out of love for them. She felt compelled to do it because a lot of them leave the building at night to socialize,” national security adviser Gerald Gouveia told the news agency. press.

Deadly fire in Guyana school dorm was deliberately started, official says

That night, investigators say, the 15-year-old started a fire in the facility’s bathroom – and it quickly began to spread, trapping other children in burning rooms.

The dormitory administrator tried desperately to find the keys to unlock the building, Gouveia said. Meanwhile, neighbors, some of whom heard the cries of the trapped children, rushed to the scene. When firefighters arrived the building was already “well engulfed”, Deputy Fire Chief Dwayne Scotland told reporters, forcing crews to smash through the walls to rescue those inside.

In the “early hours” 23 children were taken to hospitals in Mahdia and Georgetown for their injuries, the government said in a press release last week. Despite rescue efforts, 14 children – 13 girls and the dormitory administrator’s 5-year-old son – died inside the dormitory, the statement added.

Their remains could not be “visually identified” after the fire, according to a government statement. It was only on Friday that the government announced that DNA tests had been used to confirm their identity.

Six other children died in hospitals after sustaining serious injuries. A 13-year-old girl who was transferred to Northwell Health Burn Center in Staten Island is expected to recover after undergoing the first of several surgeries on Monday, the government said.

The tragedy has deeply affected a country of some 800,000 people – where flags flew at half mast throughout the three days of national mourning declared by President Irfaan Ali.

“It is a pain that we must bear as a nation and as a family. It is a pain that we must share together and support in our prayers,” Ali said in a statement.

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But the fire also stoked tensions on social media, where questions about the school’s conditions began to swirl. Last week, Ali announced that his administration would set up “a commission of inquiry to investigate the causes and circumstances of the fire”.

Guyana’s Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, said on Facebook that the mix of speculation and political denunciations was taking its toll on the families of the victims.

“Wait until you say your opinions,” Manickchand wrote on Monday. “You don’t know better than these parents what is good for their children and their families. Just as they won’t try to dictate for you, leave them alone to make their choices and grieve as they see fit. Please.”


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