…19 children safely evacuated, no injuries reported
Four male students have confessed to setting a fire on Thursday that partially destroyed St Angela’s Girls Hostel at Karasabai, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), nearly two weeks after a deadly inferno had destroyed the Mahdia Secondary School’s female dormitory and claimed the lives of 20 children.
All 19 children housed at the Karisabai hostel safely evacuated the building, according to a press release from the Guyana Police Force (GPF).
The fire occurred between 02:30h and 03:00h, and while firefighters from Lethem and Georgetown were dispatched to aid in quelling its impact, it destroyed much of the building and its contents.
Initial investigations revealed that the affected building was occupied by 19 students between the ages of 11 and 16 years.
The hostel was built and managed by the Catholic Church through a self-help initiative, and it aimed to ease the burden on students living with guardians in the village. Several students who occupied the hostel hailed from far-flung communities within the district.
Four male students had threatened to set fire to the building after they were chased from the premises by the caretaker. Making good on their promise, the school was set alight early on Thursday, leading Karasabai Police Station authorities and villagers to immediately form a bucket brigade and extinguish the fire, while the 19 students made their way to safety.
The four alleged suspects were contacted and interviewed by the Police in the presence of the Commander of Region Nine, the Regional Education Officer of Region Nine, and their parents, during which they all confessed to the planning and execution of the crime.
The alleged suspects are presently in custody.
Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn visited the site of the incident on Thursday alongside a team of technical officials. The minister called on the public to take precautionary measures to help in the prevention of such disasters, which can result in severe emotional and psychological distress.
On May 21, nineteen female students and a five-year-old boy tragically died in the fire that engulfed the Mahdia Secondary School girls’ dormitory in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni).
A fifteen-year-old student was on Monday remanded to the Juvenile Holding Centre for her alleged involvement in starting this fire. This case has been adjourned until July 4.
Initial reports indicated that this student had her cell phone confiscated, and was previously suspended for engaging in activities contrary to the rules of the institution, after which she allegedly threatened to cause “trouble” during an argument with the administrators.