Georgetown May 23 (BNA): A fire broke out overnight in a Guyanese dormitory, killing at least 19 students who were trapped and injuring many others at a public boarding school as authorities investigate whether it was started on purpose.
The Associated Press reported that all but one of the girls were Aboriginal.
“This is a terrible accident. It is tragic. It is painful,” President Irfan Ali said, adding that his government was mobilizing all possible resources as he sought help from the region to identify the remains of 13 bodies.
The fire broke out around 10:50 p.m. Sunday in a dormitory building of a secondary school that serves remote, mostly indigenous villages located in the border town of Mahdia, a gold and diamond mining region about 200 miles (320 kilometers) south. In the capital, Georgetown, the government said in a statement.
Deputy Fire Chief Dwayne Scotland said the “fire was kindled maliciously” and started in the southwest corner of the building. However, Chief Constable Clifton Hicken said that “preliminary investigations indicate that it was maliciously busted”. He also said that while the girls’ dormitory had five doors, iron grillwork trapped the students inside.
The authorities provided no further details and did not release evidence, if any, pointing to arson.