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News Americas, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Mon. May 22, 2023: The Guyana Fire Service (GFS) has reported a devastating incident at Mahdia Secondary School, located 100 miles southwest of Georgetown in an indigenous area of oil rich CARICOM South American nation of Guyana.

The May 21st fire engulfed the school’s dormitory, resulting in the tragic loss of lives. Initially, a government statement indicated that 20 individuals had perished, but the GFS later confirmed that 19 children had tragically lost their lives before the fire was extinguished.

Firefighters made valiant efforts to rescue students, successfully saving around 20 students by creating openings in the northeastern wall of the building. An ongoing investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire and gather further information.

Expressing deep sorrow, the GFS shared condolences with the affected families and friends, stating, “It is a sad day for Guyana, and the entire Fire Department mourns with you over the loss of so many young children.” The Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr. Carla Barnett, also extended sincere condolences, expressing solidarity with the impacted families and communities.

According to officials, approximately 57 children were residing in the dormitory, hailing from mountain villages such as Chenapau, Karisparu, Micobie, and El Paso. The government has dispatched Prime Minister Mark Phillips, Education Minister Priya Manickchand, and Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn to visit the affected students and distressed families.

In the aftermath of the fire, medical teams are implementing a comprehensive emergency action plan, providing medical care and support to the injured. The burn unit at the Georgetown Public Hospital is attending to six girls who sustained serious burns, with one 13-year-old receiving specialized treatment to preserve her limbs. Smoke inhalation remains an additional challenge for these girls.

Meanwhile, the opposition coalition, A Partnership for National Unity=Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC), expressed condolences and pledged support to the affected families and medical teams. They demanded a thorough investigation into the incident and called for a national day of mourning and support for the injured.

In Chenapau Village, indigenous Amerindians are demanding compensation from the government and seeking justice for the deceased students. Amerindian rights activist Michael Mc Garrell appealed for President Irfaan Ali’s assistance in comforting the grieving relatives and addressing concerns about the safety of school facilities.

As the nation mourns, heartbreaking stories emerge, including the loss of two sisters, Delicia Edwards (15) and Arianna Edwards (13), from Micobie village. Additionally, four cousins – Bibi Rita Fiona Jeffery (18), Sabrina John (16), Loreen Evans (14), and Belnisa Evans (13) – tragically lost their lives. Surviving family members expressed profound grief, highlighting the pain and trauma their loved ones endured.

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