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Fire razes school dormitory in Guyana, killing at least 20 children, many of them indigenous

Authorities say the fire spread through a school dormitory in Guyana, killing at least 20 students and injuring an unknown number of others

ByBERT WILKINSON Associated Press

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — A fire spread through a school dormitory in Guyana on Monday morning, killing at least 20 students and injuring an unknown number of others, authorities said.

The Guyanese government said in a press release that the fire started in a secondary school dormitory in the southwestern border town of Mahdia, 320 kilometers south of the capital, Georgetown.

“It’s a horrible incident. It’s tragic. It’s painful,” President Irfaan Ali said, adding that his government was mobilizing all resources to care for the children.

The government said several other students were being treated for injuries and at least six had been flown to the capital for treatment.

Ali said officials were contacting parents and mobilizing psychologists to help care for those affected by the fire.

“I can’t imagine the pain of parents right now,” he said. “It’s a major disaster.”

The fire started shortly after midnight at the school which caters mainly to indigenous children between the ages of 12 and 18, according to national security adviser Gerald Gouveia. He said it was too early to speculate on what might have been the cause, adding that severe thunderstorms in the area posed a challenge to those responding by air.

“It was a battle for us,” he said. “The pilots were very brave, very determined.”

He added that the government and emergency responders “made a mammoth effort” to save as many people as possible.

Local newspaper Stabroek News reported that the fire started in a girls’ dormitory.

Opposition MP Natasha Singh-Lewis has called for a full investigation.

“We must understand how this most horrific and deadly incident happened and take all necessary measures to prevent such a tragedy from happening again in the future,” she said.

ABC News

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