Police say schoolgirl started deadly Mahdia fire

Georgetown, Guyana – Police say they will send a file to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) on Wednesday after indicating that the deadly fire at the dormitory at a secondary school that resulted in 19 students being killed was started by a female student.

The school housed female students from Mahdia, Campbelltown, Micobie, El Paso and several other villages in the North Pakaraimas in Region 8.

“Several of the students were interviewed in the presence of a Probation Officer, and statements were taken. The scene is presently secured and guarded by ranks as investigations continue,” the police said in a statement, adding “the Police file will be sent to the DPP tomorrow morning (Wednesday)”.

In the statement the police said that the investigations so far into the fire that swept through the dormitory at the Mahdia Secondary School 100 miles south-west of Georgetown during the early hours of Monday “reveal that a female student is suspected of having set the devastating fire because her cellular phone was taken away by the Dorm’s mother and a teacher”

The statement said that at the time of the fire, there were 57 female students in the one-flat concrete building measuring about 100 feet by 40 feet, with several windows, all grilled, and with five doors.

”According to the female students, they were asleep and were awakened by screams. Upon checking, they saw fire/smoke in the bathroom area, which quickly spread in the building, causing several students to receive burns to their bodies and smoke inhalation, whilst several managed to escape.

”The injured students were taken to the Mahdia District Hospital, seen, examined and admitted patients by doctors. At the hospital, five of the female students were pronounced dead.”

The police said that a search was carried out in the building, which was destroyed by the fire, and 14 burnt remains of human beings were found.

The statement said that the government’s pathologist, Dr Nehaul Singh performed post-mortem examinations on Monday with dissections on six of the bodies and that the “cause of death was given as smoke inhalation and burns, respectively”.

The police said that the bodies were identified by relatives and handed over to them for burials. They said 13 of the burnt bodies were taken to Georgetown and are presently at the Memorial Gardens Funeral Home for storage and DNA purposes.

The police added that17 students who were taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) for medical treatment “are in stable/critical condition”, while 11 others who were taken to the Mahdia District Hospital are also in a stable condition. (CMC)

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