Teen girl charged with killing 19 victims in fatal dorm fire

A tragic incident unfolded last week in Guyana when a dormitory fire claimed the lives of 19 individuals. Authorities have now charged a 15-year-old girl in connection with the fatal blaze, treating her as an adult in the legal proceedings.

The accused appeared in a virtual hearing in a court south of Georgetown, the capital. The court ordered her detention pending further judicial proceedings. The devastating fire occurred in a government boarding school in the city of Mahdia, which caters to remote Indigenous communities from the country’s southwestern region.

Law enforcement agencies allege that the teenage girl started the fire deliberately following a dispute with an administrator over the confiscation of her cellphone. According to the court’s direction, she was not permitted to enter a plea at the initial hearing.

Her second appearance before the court will be on July 5th, during which both state and defense attorneys will signal their readiness to commence a preliminary trial. She could receive a life sentence if convicted.

The police statement paints a harrowing picture of the events on May 22nd. Students woke up to cries of alarm and discovered fire and smoke in the dormitory’s bathroom. Nearly 30 children were hospitalized as a result of the inferno. Two critically injured girls were transported to New York for advanced medical treatment.

To date, the authorities have successfully identified 13 victims through DNA testing, whose remains were given back to their families for final rites.

In an alarming revelation, it was determined that all five doors of the dormitory were locked from the inside. Gerald Gouveia, the National Security Advisor, noted that the dormitory supervisor had locked all the doors to deter the female students, ages 12-18, from mingling with adult males in the mining town. Regrettably, the supervisor struggled to unlock the doors amidst the rapidly spreading fire.

Guyana’s Education Minister, Priya Manickchand, stated that investigations are underway into the school’s fire alarm system and fire drill procedures.