School dormitory fire in Guyana kills 19 students

22 May 2023, 16:14

Guyana School Fire
Guyana School Fire. Picture: PA

The blaze began shortly after midnight at the school that serves mostly indigenous children aged 12 to 18.

A night-time fire swept through a dormitory in Guyana, killing at least 19 students and injuring several others at a boarding school catering to remote, mostly indigenous villages, authorities have said.

“This is a horrific incident. It’s tragic. It’s painful,” President Irfaan Ali said, adding that his government was mobilising all possible resources to care for the children.

The fire broke out shortly before midnight in the dormitory building of a secondary school in the south-western border town of Mahdia, a gold and diamond mining community about 200 miles south of the capital Georgetown, the government said in a statement.

Officials initially said 20 students were killed, but fire officials later revised the toll to 19, with several others injured.

Guyana School Fire
Injured children were flown to the capital Georgetown (Royston Drake/AP)

National security adviser Gerald Gouveia said the figure was revised after doctors revived a very critical patient who “everyone thought was dead”.

“When firefighters arrived on the scene, the building was already completely engulfed in flames,” Guyana’s Fire Service said in a statement.

“Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the relatives and friends of those young souls.”

The department said 14 students died at the scene and five others at a local hospital.

Officials said two children remain in a critical condition and four have severe injuries.

Six students were flown to Georgetown for treatment, while five others remain at a hospital in Mahdia, with another 10 under observation.

“Firefighters did manage to rescue some 20 students by breaking holes in the north-eastern wall of the building,” the department said.

“Our team is still on the ground investigating as we seek to provide clarity regarding how the fire started and all other necessary information.”

The school serves mostly indigenous children aged 12 to 18, Mr Gouveia said.

Guyana School Fire
The school was totally destroyed (Guyana’s Department of Public Information/AP)

He said it was too early to speculate about what might have caused the fire, adding that heavy thunderstorms in the area posed a challenge to those responding by air.

“It was a battle for us,” he said.

“The pilots were very brave, very determined.”

He added that the government and emergency responders “made a gigantic effort” to save as many people as possible.

Mr Ali said officials were contacting parents and mobilising psychologists to help deal with those affected by the fire.

“I cannot imagine the pain right now of the parents,” he said.

“This is a major disaster.”

Local newspaper Stabroek News reported that the fire broke out in a girls’ dormitory.

The opposition party, APNU+AFC, also issued a statement saying it will seek a thorough investigation and thanking people in the small community for helping authorities rescue children who were trapped.

“We need to understand how this most horrific and deadly incident occurred and take all necessary measures to prevent such a tragedy from happening again in the future,” opposition legislator Natasha Singh-Lewis said.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

At least two people have died in the fire

At least two dead as Moscow defence research centre bursts into flames ‘with staff trapped inside’

Parisians along River Seine, below Cathedral Notre Dame celebrate Fête de la Musique - annual city-wide music festival each June

British woman 'gang-raped in Paris at music festival'

Jay Slater's father has urged people to come forward if they have any information on his son's disappearance

'Someone must know something': Jay Slater's father speaks out as search for missing son stretches into second week

Jay Slater's family have shared an image of what is believed to be the last sighting of him

Spanish police issue update on missing Jay Slater after family share CCTV of mystery figure believed to be teen

Jay Slater's family have shared an image of what is believed to be the last sighting of him

Missing Jay Slater's 'last sighting' in Tenerife: Family share CCTV of mystery figure believed to be teen

Hosts of Izmir Wildlife Park

Mother in 'serious condition' after being viciously mauled by wolf pack during jog through safari park

Tamayo Perry was killed in a shark attack.

Pirates of the Caribbean star mauled to death by shark while surfing in Hawaii

Debbie Duncan with Jay Slater

'I hope I'm not taking him home in a body bag': Jay Slater's mum feels 'let down' by conspiracy theories about her son

Barcelona is set to crack down on Airbnbs

Barcelona announces plans to ban holiday rentals for tourists from 2028

Hungary's Kevin Csoboth, bottom, shoots past Scotland's goalkeeper Angus Gunn, top, during a Group A match between Scotland and Hungary at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, Sunday, June 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Scotland knocked out of Euro 2024 following Hungary's 100th-minute goal as collision sees star stretchered off

Terror in Russia: Gunmen open fire at two synagogues killing six police before slitting priest's throat at Orthodox Church

Terror in Russia: Gunmen open fire at synagogue and Orthodox churches killing 15 police officers

Detective who probed Nicola Bulley offers services to Jay Slater's family as search for teen enters its second week

Investigator who probed Nicola Bulley offers services to Jay Slater's family as search targets remote buildings

M50 motorway Dublin

'Miracle' as schoolboy, 12, 'lucky to be alive' after toppling from toilet of moving coach onto motorway


Jay Slater's father and brother make emotional pleas for return of the missing teenager

Jay Slater had travelled to the Canary Islands for a music festival

Jay Slater's mum issues desperate plea after Spanish police reject help in search for missing Brit

Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky has reportedly slammed Nigel Farage for his controversial comments about the West provoking the invasion of the country.

Zelensky says Farage 'infected by Putinism' as Reform leader doubles down on Ukraine comments