At least 19 die in school dormitory fire in Guyana

At least 19 children died after a fire gutted a secondary school dormitory in Guyana overnight, emergency services and the government said on Monday.

The building in the central city of Mahdia was “completely engulfed in flames” by the time firefighters arrived around midnight, the Guyana Fire Service said in a statement on Monday.

Fourteen children died at the scene and another five in hospital. Six others, including two in critical condition, were airlifted to the capital, Georgetown, while others remained under local hospital care. Some 20 students were rescued.

Most of the 19 students who died were indigenous, said Mark Ramotar, the director of the police communications department.

“This is a day that will live in infamy for us because these children did not deserve to die like this. It’s a day for mourning for all of us,” said Guyana’s National Security Advisor in charge of evacuations, Captain Gerald Gouveia.

Police and fire services said they were working to determine the fire’s cause.

“According to one of the female students, who managed to escape, she was awakened by screams and … saw a fire in the bathroom area, which quickly spread to other parts of the building,” the police force said in a statement.