Deadly Mahdia fire: DNA results positively identify remaining 13 burnt bodies

…critical girl to be flown overseas for treatment

The bodies of 13 persons, who died in the fatal fire at Mahdia Secondary School’s female dormitory, were positively identified and can now be released by the Government to their respective families for funeral arrangements.
This was announced on Friday by the Health Ministry.
The DNA analysis on the remains that were deemed unrecognisable were conducted by Professor and System Chair, Dr Carlos Cordon-Cardo alongside a team of experts at the Pathology Laboratory of New York-based Mount Sinai.
Earlier in the week, samples from forensic specimens taken from the bodies of 13 female students were obtained by Dr Shubhaker Karra Paul, a specialist pathologist from Barbados, while one forensic specimen obtained from the five-year-old male victim was taken by Guyanese pathologist Dr Nehaul Singh.
These samples were compared to those taken from the parents and siblings of the children.
Arrangements have been put in place by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) for families to take possession of the identified bodies as the Government continues to offer assistance with funeral arrangements over the following days.
The first funeral of the 19 who perished in the Mahdia fire occurred on Wednesday, as Sabrina John was buried in the presence of her family at Karisparu, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni).

Overseas for treatment
Meanwhile, during a press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Mark Phillips restated the Government’s commitment to aiding the children, families and community members who were affected by the deadly inferno.
Of the two girls still in critical condition at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), one was identified as requiring further medical treatment and is expected to travel overseas soon, according to Phillips.
In an ongoing show of support from international partners, President Dr Irfaan Ali, during a press conference, revealed that treatment offers from the Government of Cuba as well as Texas-based Shriners Hospital were made.
“We haven’t yet determined where she will go but based on the doctor’s word, that girl has been identified for further treatment overseas and she is being prepared to be sent overseas,” Phillips said.
For the survivors in Mahdia and Georgetown, the Government is continuing to offer necessary resources to aid their healing process.
“We have Ministers that were identified and are working with all survivors – the girls who were hospitalised in Georgetown, the girls who were discharged from the hospital and are now housed in the different facilities in Georgetown, the families who came out – and we’re offering all necessary assistance,” Phillips said.
He clarified that medical teams on the ground in Mahdia are providing physical and psychosocial interventions, with the counselling intended to be a long-term offering.
As President Dr Irfaan Ali committed to full compensation for affected families, transportation, personal care and hygiene hampers and food packages are being disbursed to community members.
Going forward, Phillips said that efforts will also be made to collaborate with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the private sector and other entities offering support to the victims to implement a coordinated effort to best help individuals who most require it.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said that the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the dorm fire will help improve dorm facilities across the country.
On Thursday, President Ali, during a press conference, confirmed that a CoI into the fatal fire will be established soon to determine the cause and circumstances of the incident.
“A CoI will serve to identify, from all angles, what may have caused this whole tragedy and also to recommend corrective measures as we seek to improve what we’re doing especially as it relates to housing our students in dorms,” Phillips said.
The Mahdia Secondary School female dormitory typically housed some 59 students who lived in villages including Micobie, Karisparu, El Paso and Chenapao.
“We’ll continue to have students in dorms throughout Guyana and coming out of the CoI, in addition to determining the blameworthiness, it will also offer an opportunity for recommendations that will help all of us to improve the dorms and the facilities that we house our students when they’re away from their family,” Phillips said.