15-year-old girl in Guyana charged with 19 counts of murder
Police have charged the teenager with lighting the fire in a dormitory, killing 18 classmates and a five-year-old kid.
A teenager in Guyana has been charged as an adult with 19 charges of murder after police say she deliberately set the blaze at Mahdia secondary school on 21 May to a girls' dormitory, killing 18 classmates and a five-year-old kid.
A government source said as quoted by AFP that the weekend school dormitory fire in central Guyana was sparked by a dissatisfied student furious over having her cell phone confiscated.
The fire devastated the building in Mahdia, the provincial capital, which housed females aged 11 to 12 and 16 to 17. Some are still in the hospital.
An official police report affirmed that "a female student is suspected of having set the devastating fire because her cellular phone was taken away."
The government source, speaking anonymously, said the teenage pupil in question had confessed to the arson attack and was under police guard at the district hospital in Mahdia.
According to the official, police are seeking guidance on whether to prosecute her.
On Monday, Guyana Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken had already divulged that investigators maintained the fire was "maliciously set."
Students aren't allowed to have phones in the dormitory, as per the government source.
Following the confiscation of the girl's phone, she "threatened the same night that she would burn down the building and everyone heard her," according to a government source.
According to the official, the girl went to the restroom and sprayed pesticide on a curtain before igniting a match. Despite the attempts of other students to put out the fire, the official stated that the fire swiftly raced through the timber ceiling and enveloped the whole structure.
20 more children brought to the hospital
Some students, including the suspected firestarter, were able to flee when some men smashed down a door.
Thirteen little girls and one boy were killed in the building, and five more died later in the hospital.
Along with the deaths, around 20 children were brought to the hospital. According to a hospital source, seven people are still hospitalized, with two in severe condition.
According to the authorities, six autopsies have confirmed that the youngsters died from smoke inhalation and burns. The other 13 unidentified remains were being taken to Georgetown, the capital, for DNA testing to verify their identities.
A forensic team from Barbados has arrived in Guyana to assist with the identification, according to National Security Advisor Gerry Gouveia. Guyanese President Irfaan Ali revealed that Cuba also offered to give medical support.
It is worth noting that Guyana, with a population of 800,000, is South America's only English-speaking nation. It is a former Dutch and British colony, which recently found it holds the world's largest per-capita oil reserves.