CARICOM extends condolences following major fire in Guyana

May 22, 2023
Prime Minister Mark Phillips and other ministers visiting survivors at a hospital in Mahdia (Contributed Photo)
The burnt remains of the dormitory at the Mahdia Secondary School.

At least 14 bodies have been pulled out of the dormitory of the Mahdia Secondary School in Guyana that was destroyed by an early morning blaze on Monday, resulting in the death of at least 20 children.

Officials said that an estimated 57 children were housed in the dormitory as the authorities try to determine the cause of the fire that engulfed the building. The students were the students were from the mountain villages of Chenapau, Karisparu, Micobie and El Paso.

They said 19 girls and one boy had died. At least 29 children were transported to the Mahdia District  Hospital, where five died. Another child reportedly died on her way to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.

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.

National Security Advisor Gerry Gouveia, said “these children did not deserve to die like this.

“It’s a day of mourning,” he told reporters, as he updated on the situation.

The government said five planes have already taken off to  Mahdia to support the regional health officials with additional medical supplies and Gouveia described the pilots as “ brave and determined” and that they are risking “dangerous conditions” to fly into the mountain town of Mahdia.

He said getting into Mahdia continues to be problematic.

“There was a lot of lighting and thunder…the pilots were very brave, very determined,” he said, describing the incident as the  worst among the tragedies he has seen in his lifetime.

Among those killed is a five-year-old boy, identified as Adoni, whose parents served as the caretakers of the dormitory and lived in an apartment attached to the building.

The boy was reportedly in the apartment as the parents tried to unlock the five doors to the dormitory and save the girls in the school.

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