Guatemala: Fire kills 19 children at a shelter

24 March, 2017, 00:08 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Guatemala: Fire kills 19 children at a shelter

According to statements that have come to light, they were apparently locked up there after having been recaptured by the National Civil Police (PNC) on Tuesday, after a mass escape.

A further 25 people were injured, suffering first, second and third-degree burns, and were taken to hospitals in Guatemala City.

President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales held a minute's silence for the 22 girls who died at a pre-planned International Women's Day event yesterday. Complaints about abuse and living conditions at the overcrowded shelter have been frequent.

The death toll in the fire at a the youth shelter on the outskirts of Guatemala rose to 31 Thursday as a dozen more girls died at hospitals overnight and details began to emerge of a tragedy fueled by angry, neglected youths seeking to flee bad conditions.

A fire that erupted in a Guatemala shelter for abused teens has killed around 35 young girls and left numerous families demanding justice for their loved ones. Investigations to determine if this is true are still underway according to Mayra Veliz, general secretary of the attorney general's office. "It is tragic", said Carlos Soto, director of the Roosevelt Hospital, describing severe burns to their lungs, throats and skin.

Even outside of shelters, growing up can be tough in the Latin American country with the highest rates of child malnutrition, where street gangs often prey on children and teenagers in poorer neighborhoods.

Overcrowding is a common problem in public institutions in Guatemala, including in particular prisons.

Nineteen victims were found dead at the scene, and 16 more succumbed one by one to their grisly injuries at hospitals in Guatemala City. She said a group of disabled girls had been bused to another shelter as detectives scoured the site.

"They don't want to give any information at all", said Rosa Aguirre, who rushed from the capital to see if her two sisters, aged 13 and 15, and her 17-year-old brother were among the casualties.

A prosecutor for upholding children's rights, Hilda Morales, told reporters she was seeking to have the shelter closed due to authorities' inability to manage it and the series of complaints.


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