Guatemala mourns after children’s home fire kills 21 girls

Guatemala mourns after children’s home fire kills 21 girls

Guatemala mourns after children’s home fire kills 21 girls

Written by Ranee Mohamed

09 Mar, 2017 | 11:14 am

Guatemala has declared three days of national mourning after a fire killed at least 21 teenage girls at a children’s care home.Wednesday’s blaze at the government-run Virgen de Asuncion shelter in San Jose Pinula, near Guatemala City, has focused attention on how it was run.

Police say some residents set fire to mattresses after a riot and an escape attempt.There have been allegations of abuse at the overcrowded centre.

At least 40 other people suffered burns in the fire, and some remain in critical condition.President Jimmy Morales declared the country to be in official mourning. His office said the cause of the fire was being investigated.

The tragedy was “a great shame for the state and for the whole world”, Supreme Court Magistrate Maria Eugenia Morales told reporters.Grieving relatives of victims and distraught families waiting for news have been gathering outside the home, where police intervened after a riot broke out on Tuesday evening.

Many children escaped at the time.A group of youths isolated by authorities after the riot caused the blaze by setting fire to mattresses, police chief Nery Ramos said.Firefighters said it appeared to have started in the female section of the shelter.

Guatemalan media report that the riot erupted due to alleged sexual abuse by staff and frustration with the poor conditions and food.

“It was a ticking time bomb. This was to be expected,” a former employee, Angel Cardenas told the AFP news agency.

Courtesy: BBC

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