At least 20 dead in school dorm fire in Guyana, officials say: “This is a major disaster”


At least 20 people were killed Sunday in a school dormitory fire in Guyana, the government said in a statement, with the nation’s president calling it a “major disaster.”

“This is a major disaster. It is horrible, it is painful,” the South American nation’s President Irfaan Ali said Sunday night.

The death toll had risen to 20 and several people were injured in the fire at the Mahdia Secondary School in central Guyana, the government statement said.

Ali said he ordered that arrangements be made in the two major hospitals in Guyana’s capital of Georgetown “so that every single child who requires attention be given the best possible opportunity to get that attention.”

Private and military planes have been sent to Mahdia, some 124 miles south of Georgetown, as the region is affected by heavy rains.

Natasha Singh-Lewis, an opposition member of Parliament, called for an investigation into the fire’s cause.

“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,” she said.

Guyana, a small English-speaking country of 800,000 people, is a former Dutch and British colony with the world’s largest per capita oil reserves, which it hopes will help spur rapid development.

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