May 25, 2023 News
Mahdia dorm fire…
Kaieteur News – Two of the eleven girls who are admitted at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) following the devastating fire at the Mahdia Secondary School’s female dormitory on Sunday, are still in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in a critical condition.
According to information received from the hospital on Wednesday, 11 girls are currently patients at the hospital. Out of the 11, two are in the ICU, while eight girls are admitted in the High-Dependency Unit (HDU) in a stable condition.
Kaieteur News was told that one girl is admitted in the Burns Care Unit and is set to undergo another surgery shortly. She was among the first set of children who were admitted at the hospital and had to undergo a limb-saving surgery. On Tuesday night, another seven girls were discharged from the hospital after given clearance from doctors.
Following a national vigil ceremony on Tuesday night for the 19 children who died in the fire, President Irfaan Ali was joined on Wednesday by several Cabinet members and the members of the Diplomatic community for a flower-laying ceremony in Mahdia. On Wednesday too, one of the young girls who perished, Subrina John was laid to rest at her village, Karisparu in Region Eight. Kaieteur News understands that she too lost other relatives in the fire.
CARICOM Heads of Government in a statement pledged to support Guyana in the aftermath of the fire. In a release, the CARICOM Secretariat said that it has noted of the horrific reports of the deaths of 19 young people in a fire in a dormitory of the Mahdia Secondary School in Mahdia, Guyana. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to all who have been affected, both directly and indirectly, by this horrific event. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mahdia community and all of Guyana as you mourn the deaths of beloved relatives and friends. We also pray for the recovery of those children who are now under medical care,” CARICOM expressed.
The regional grouping also stated that Member States have mobilised human and other resources to support the recovery process. “We stand ready to offer additional support as needed,” the release added.
Responsible social media
Meanwhile, President Irfaan Ali on Wednesday urged Guyanese to desist from posting harmful theories and speculation on social media regarding the fire. “There is a time and place for everything. Let us focus our use of social media on motivational quotes, prayers, inspirational songs, and uplifting messages, and not an opportunity to come up with our own theories on these beautiful children’s lives,” President Ali said in a Facebook live statement on Wednesday morning.
He stressed that the focus at present should be supporting the grieving families and children, who are going through unimaginable pain. The President called for collective responsibility and asked that respect be shown for the affected children, their families, teachers, and the communities. “Social media is a powerful tool. It’s a tool, in situations like these, that must be utilised within some guidelines and some rules. I am urging all Guyanese to desist from self-analysis, from reviewing timeline stories of all these girls, and from analysing the life story of all these girls at this time,” he urged.
The Head-of-State said while a very opinionated culture exists in Guyana, the government is in consultation with the affected families, and will, as far as possible, respect and fulfill their wishes. “Everything that we are doing, we are doing it in consultation with these families and children. We are putting their wishes and their desires as far as possible in the front seat. I ask all of us to do the same. Let us put our opinions and our desires for once, in the backseat, and put these children and these families in the front seat as the priority of our nation at this time.”
President Ali pointed out that on the coastland, people may not understand the tremendous impact the love they are exhibiting is having on those affected by the tragedy. “When they are out here with us now, and they see us with them collectively sharing in their pain, collectively working to uplift them in spirit and hope, it gives them strength.”
He said Guyanese must continue to support them at this time, even as government supports the respective communities with the necessary psychological help. “This is not a one-day or two-day…or one-week agenda. This will be months and even years ahead of support that we must give them as a people, that the government has committed itself to supporting…and shouldering this great hurt that these families and children are undergoing,” President Ali expressed.
18 girls dead
Kaieteur News had reported that nineteen children – 18 of them school girls and one 5-year-old boy died Sunday night when fire swept through a heavily-grilled dormitory which housed students of the Mahdia Secondary School, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni)
Information reaching this publication revealed that of the 19 children, 14 children died at the scene, while five died at the Mahdia District Hospital. Among the casualties were twin sisters. The names of the children who died on Sunday are as follow: Adonijah Jerome, Tracil Thomas, Lisa Roberts, Delecia Edwards, Lorita Williams, Natalie Bellarmine, Arriana Edwards, Cleoma Simon, Subrina John, Martha D’Andrade, (and twin) Mary D’Andrade, Belnisa Evans, Loreen Evans, Omerfia Edwin, Nickleen Robinson, Sherena Daniel, Eulander Carter, Andrea Roberts, and Rita Jeffrey.
In a press briefing on Monday afternoon, Deputy Fire Chief (ag) Dwayne Scotland confirmed that the fire which took approximately three and a half hours to be extinguished, was maliciously set. It was confirmed by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) on Tuesday that a female student of the Mahdia Secondary School reportedly started the fire. The police in their report said investigations so far revealed that a female student is suspected of having set the devastating fire because her cellular phone was taken away by the dorm mother, Carletta Williams, and a teacher.
In an Al Jazeera report dated May 23, 2023, it stated that Guyana’s National Security Adviser Gerald Gouveia told The Associated Press that the fire started with a teenage student who was upset at having her mobile phone confiscated after she was discovered to be having an affair with an older man. Gouveia explained that the student, who is under the age of 16, lit the fire in the bathroom area of the dormitory.
The article went on to state that Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, an adviser to Guyana’s health ministry, confirmed that the suspect was being treated for burns at the hospital and is expected to be released into juvenile detention. Gouveia added that the man allegedly involved in a relationship with the student is expected to face charges for statutory rape. As investigation into the deadly fire continues, a specialized team from Barbados is in Guyana carrying out Deoxyriboncleic Acid (DNA) procedures on some 13 bodies which were burnt beyond recognition.
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