October 1, 2023

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Guyana to pay $20,000 to families of children killed in school fire

13 girls and a 5-year-old boy died in the same school hostel, while five more died in Mahdia Hospital.

Courtesy | The school was heavily guarded against theft and was difficult to evacuate

Guyana’s Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlal, confirmed on Tuesday that the families of the 19 children who were burned to death at the Mahdia Secondary School on May 21 will be compensated with $20,000 each.

The agreement details that the government of Guyana has paid a total of 5 million dollars to each parent or guardian of the victims as financial assistance for all claims for the death of the victims, EFE agency reported.

With this in mind, Nandlal assured that “at present, all the families involved have signed the agreement”. The government also provided all kinds of support to the families of the victims to and from the capital, Georgetown, including transportation, accommodation, as well as psychological and medical support, funeral arrangements and replacement of items destroyed in the incident.

Those who died in the fire were 18 girls, students of the school and mostly tribals, and a 5-year-old boy, identified as the son of one of the centre’s caretakers.

13 girls and a 5-year-old boy died in the same school hostel, while five more died in Mahdia Hospital.

According to officials, 56 girls are housed in the school’s girls’ dormitory and are originally from the mountain towns of Chenabao, Garisparu, Maicopi and El Paso.

A 15-year-old student who allegedly set the fire has been charged with murder. According to the police report, the student’s mobile phone was seized and suspected of setting the fire.

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Heavily secured against theft, making evacuation difficult, the school served students mainly from tribal villages outside Mahdia.

As many hill communities do not have secondary schools, some students who wish to pursue higher education attend Mahdia Secondary School.

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