Mahdia fire that killed 19 children was “maliciously set”; survivors, others being counselled

Last Updated on Monday, 22 May 2023, 22:35 by Writer

The devastating fire that killed 18 girls and one boy at the dormitory of the Mahdia Secondary School was “maliciously set”, but further details were not immediately available.

President Irfaan Ali announced Monday afternoon that government was seeking regional and international assistance to conduct DNA tests on several of the bodies to confirm their identities by matching their remains with their surviving relatives.

He also promised that government would provide financial assistance and counselling to the grieving parents, guardians and other family members. “We have already mobilised full counselling services for the children, their families and community members,” he said, adding that family members have been told that they would receive “full unconditional, unhindered support” such as medical, social, counselling, financial and transportation services.

Dr Ali said Guyana would observe three days of national mourning as of 4 PM Monday. “Today is one of the saddest days of my life as President. It is a day that I wished never occurred,” he added.

Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken and Fire Service investigators said “the fire was maliciously set” but it was too early to say who did it and what was the motive. He said those details were expected within 48 hours. The fire originated in the south-western end of the building.

Latest figures show that three of the 59 registered occupants went home for the weekend. Thirteen girls and one “little” boy died in the dormitory and five girls died at the Mahdia Hospital.

Eleven others were up to late Monday afternoon still hospitalised at the Mahdia Hospital.