AT least 19 children have died in a fire at a school dormitory in Guyana.
According to the Caribbean News Agency (CANA), 14 bodies have been pulled from the dormitory of the Mahdia Secondary School by midday on Monday. The cause of the fire has not been determined.
Guyanese officials said approximately 57 students, from the mountain villages of Chenapau, Karisparu, Micobie and El Paso, were housed there.
Twenty-nine children were taken to the Mahdia District hospital, where five died. Another girl died on her way to the Georgetown Public Hospital.
A statement from the government said Prime Minister Mark Phillips, Education Minister Priya Manickchand and Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, were visiting the affected students and their families.
“A full-scale medical emergency action plan has been launched. We ask that our prayers continue to be with these children, their families, and their communities,” the statement added.
National Security Advisor Gerry Gouveia, said, “These children did not deserve to die like this."
“It’s a day of mourning,” he told reporters.
The government said five planes went to Mahdia to assist, despite bad weather.
Gouveia said getting into the area was problematic. He described the incident as among the worst tragedies he has seen.
A five-year-old boy, identified only as Adoni, was among those who died. His parents were caretakers of the dormitory and lived in an apartment attached to the building.
Opposition leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar sent condolences to the families on Monday.
She said she was deeply saddened by the tragedy.
"As a parent myself, I can only imagine the pain and grief that the families of these children are feeling. My thoughts are with you during this difficult time, and I pray that you find the strength and courage to face the days ahead."