In a tragic incident, a 15-year-old girl has been accused of deliberately causing the deaths of 19 children by setting fire to a school dormitory in Guyana. The fire, which occurred at Mahdia Secondary School in western Guyana, resulted in the loss of 18 female students and one 5-year-old boy, as stated by the Guyana Fire and Rescue Service.
The teenager made a virtual appearance in court and was charged as an adult for the 19 murders. However, she was not permitted to enter a plea, and her next court appearance is scheduled for July 5 to determine if the trial can proceed.
According to investigators, it is alleged that the girl started the fire in the dormitory bathroom as an act of retaliation after a teacher confiscated her cell phone. The severity of the charges means that if she is found guilty, she could potentially face a life sentence in prison, as reported by AP.
At the time of the incident, there were 56 female students present in the dormitory, which was constructed with concrete and wood. The dormitory windows were barred, and five doors were locked, making it difficult for the students to escape.
President Dr Irfaan Ali, in a press conference following the fire, expressed the heartbreaking reality that many of the bodies were badly burned and required DNA testing for identification. The samples were sent to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and the results have confirmed the identities of all the victims, as disclosed by Guyana’s Department of Public Information (DPI).
Additionally, it was revealed that the dormitory administrator had previously locked the doors to prevent female students from leaving. Tragically, the 5-year-old boy who lost his life was the administrator’s own son.
Although the exact number of injuries sustained during the incident was not disclosed, approximately 13 students were transferred to hospitals for treatment, according to the DPI. One severely injured victim was taken to the burn center at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City.
The DPI stated that the patient underwent two surgeries and her condition, although critical, showed steady improvement. The transfer was conducted as a precautionary measure and in the best interest of the patient.
President Dr Irfaan Ali expressed his commitment to supporting the affected families and children, assuring them that the government would provide all necessary assistance during this difficult time. The Mental Health Team, including psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and social workers, continues to offer continuous support to the families and children affected by this tragedy, as stated in the DPI’s statement.
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