Fire in Guyana School Dormitory Kills at Least 20

At least 20 people, many of them children, were killed when a fire engulfed a dormitory at a school in central Guyana, the government said on Monday.

Several others were injured in the blaze, which broke out overnight in the town of Mahdia, about 120 miles southwest of the capital, Georgetown, including seven students who were in critical condition and were being evacuated by plane as part of a “a full-scale medical emergency action plan,” the government said in a statement.

“We have lost many beautiful souls in that fire,” the statement said.

President Mohamed Irfaan Ali of Guyana was “supporting efforts” to receive and treat the survivors, who were being flown to Ogle airport, also known as Eugene F. Correia International Airport, in the capital, according to the statement.

Images posted by a local news outlet showed a glowing plume of smoke rising from the blazing building at the Mahdia Secondary School.

Five planes stocked with medical supplies were dispatched to Mahdia to support the rescue and evacuation efforts on the ground.

“It is with heavy heart and pain that the cabinet is being briefed and kept updated on a horrific fire,” the government said in an earlier statement on Monday, adding that “inclement weather” had posed “severe challenges” to rescue efforts. “Our thoughts and prayers are with our children and their families at this time,” the statement said.

The source of the fire had not yet been confirmed. Natasha Singh-Lewis, a representative for the opposition coalition A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change, called for a thorough investigation into “what really went wrong” at the school, in a statement posted on Facebook on Monday.

“We need to understand how this most horrific and deadly incident occurred and take all necessary measures to prevent such a tragedy from happening again,” she said.

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