GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – The Secretary General of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping, Dr Carla Barnett, says the body has received with great sorrow the shocking news of the deadly fire that razed the dormitory at the Mahdia Secondary School in Guyana early Monday morning.
“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. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time of unimaginable loss,” said Barnett in a statement.
The Guyana Fire Service today said that 19 children died in the fire.
A government statement had initially stated that 20 people died.
But, the fire service, in a statement, said, 19 children had lost their lives by the time the fire was extinguished.
“Firefighters did manage to rescue some 20 students by breaking holes in the northeastern wall of the building. Our team is still on the ground investigating as we seek to provide clarity regarding how the fire started and all other necessary information.
“It is a sad day for Guyana and the entire fire department mourns with you over the loss of so many young children. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the relatives and friends of those young souls and our prayers remain with you,” it said in the statement.
Officials said that an estimated 57 children were housed in the dormitory.
The students were from the mountain villages of Chenapau, Karisparu, Micobie, and El Paso.
A government statement said that Prime Minister Mark Phillips, Education Minister Priya Manickchand, and Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, have begun to visit affected students and distressed families.
“A full-scale medical emergency action plan has been launched. We ask that our prayers continue to be with these children, their families, and their communities,” the statement added.
Medical officer at the Georgetown Public Hospital’s burn unit, Dr Vickita Nandan, told reporters that six girls who were airlifted to the facility are battling serious burns with a 13-year-old girl receiving limb-saving treatment because of the extent of her burns.
She said the girls are also suffering from smoke inhalation challenges.
The main opposition coalition, A Partnership for National Unity-Allinace for Change (APNU+AFC), expressed condolences to the families, relatives, friends, residents of Mahdia.
Meanwhile, indigenous Amerindians in Chenapau Village are demanding compensation from the government.