Mahdia fire: DNA experts arrive from Barbados to assist in identifying remains – Ali

…Cuba pledges to provide any medical assistance needed
…authorities awaiting DNA tests to confirm identities of some

A team of DNA experts from Barbados arrived in Guyana on Tuesday, to assist with the identification of the students who tragically perished in the fire at the Mahdia Secondary School’s female dormitory on Sunday night.
As he acknowledged the unwavering support of regional and international partners during an event, President Irfaan Ali thanked the Barbados Government and Prime Minister, Mia Amor Mottley for this assistance. He also pointed out that the Cuban Government has offered full medical support for those who require medical assistance.

An aftermath of the fire at the Mahdia girls’ dormitory (MoE photo)

The fire, which destroyed the entire structure and killed 19, left charred remains that were burnt beyond recognition. As such, efforts have been activated to have them identified and bring closure to the aggrieved families. Some 13 bodies are to be identified.
“I want to acknowledge the immediate help of those in Caricom, the Prime Minister of Barbados. Today, we have a team of experts arriving from Barbados to assist us in the DNA analysis. I want to thank our international partners, the United States of America, PAHO and all others who readily offered full support in all that we need at this time…I also cannot [forget] the generous offer of Cuba yesterday to give us full medical support in and out of Guyana. And to be a host country for any medical needs in Cuba.”
Students who lost their lives included Tracil Thomas, Lisa Roberts, Delicia Edwards, Lorita Williams, Natalie Bellarmine, Arriana Edwards, Cleoma Simon, Subrina John, Martha Dandrade, Loreen Evans, Belnisa Evans, Mary Dandrade, Omerfia Edwin, Nickleen Robinson, Sherina Daniels, Eulander Carter, Andrea Roberts and Rita Jeffrey. The ages of the girls ranged between 12 and 17. In addition, five-year-old Adanye Jerome, the son of dorm parents, also lost his life.
Ali urged, “I will say that what we need at this time is continued prayers and thoughts for the families and communities. We pray collectively that the God of love, faith and patience will continue to bless the families and strengthen them in faith, shower them with love and increase their patience.”

Families are waiting with bated breaths to be updated on the identification of their loved ones. Loreen Evans was identified and her parents were given the opportunity to view the remains and identify who could possibly be their child.
This publication was informed that DNA samples were taken from the remains of Belnissa Evans and her family awaits word to confirm identity.
Meanwhile, the body of Bibi Rita Fiona Jeffrey was not clearly identified as other remains look identically like hers. Officials are relying on DNA samples to confirm which of the remains is hers.
Government has indicated that the parents of these victims are receiving adequate support and counselling, or any other assistance needed.
Apart from the 19 children who lost their lives, six were also admitted to the Georgetown Public Hospital. Two were intubated and are receiving ventilation support in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and one was rushed to the Operating Theatre (OT) to undergo limb saving surgery. As of Tuesday, the count at the GPHC increased to nine.
The other three children, who were in less critical conditions, received assistance in the hospital’s Paediatric High Dependency Unit (HDU).
According to a Guyana Fire Service, 14 youths died at the scene of the fire, while five died at Mahdia District Hospital.
Initial investigations by the Guyana Fire Service revealed that the fire was maliciously set and the origin was identified as the south-western end of the building. It is alleged that the fire was set by a student who was upset by the confiscation of her phone following concerns that the dorm administrators had with her behaviour.
The GFS added that after this initial discovery, the scene was handed over to the Guyana Police Force. (G12)