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19 Dead in School Inferno

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An inferno took the lives of 19 young people, including a five-year-old boy, and left several injured. 

The tragedy occurred on Sunday, May 21, at Mahdia Secondary School in Guyana, where 19 youngsters died in a fire in a locked dormitory. The fire was reportedly ignited intentionally by a fellow student whose phone had been confiscated due to her relationship with an older man. 

The suspected arsonist, a 14-year-old girl, had allegedly threatened to set fire to the building when her phone was seized due to an alleged affair. Gerald Gouveia, the National Security Adviser, disclosed that the girl, who was injured in the fire, will be placed in juvenile detention after her discharge from the hospital. 

Many of the victims were unable to escape the blaze due to the dormitory’s locked doors and barred windows. Gouveia explained that the dormitory supervisor had locked the facility because the girls were frequently leaving at night to socialize. In a panic during the incident, the supervisor was unable to unlock the doors from the inside, although she managed to escape the fire. 

The desperate cries of the girls, attempting to escape the burning building, woke the residents of the surrounding neighborhood. 

The majority of the victims were Indigenous girls from nearby remote communities close to Mahdia, a mining town near the Brazilian border. Among the deceased was the dormitory supervisor’s five-year-old son. The bodies of 13 victims were so badly burned that identification was challenging. In response, Guyana has accepted aid from the United States and other countries, which have offered to send forensic experts to assist in DNA identification. 

In addition to pressing charges against the teenage suspect, authorities anticipate arresting the older man involved in the relationship on charges of statutory rape, according to Gouveia. As the investigation advances, the Guyana Police Force will seek guidance from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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