Guyana: At least 20 children dead in school dormitory fire
Guyana's president, Irfaan Ali, said the incident was a "horrible disaster." Authorities have begun evacuating the victims to the two main hospitals in the capital.
At least 20 children have been killed and several more were injured in a fire at a dormitory in Guyana late on Sunday night.
The fire broke in the girls' dormitory of the Mahdia Secondary School, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) inland from the capital, Georgetown.
"This is a major disaster. It is horrible, it is painful," the South American nation's President Irfaan Ali said.
In a statement, the government offered prayers for the families of the victims and added, "We have lost many beautiful souls in that fire."
Medical evacuations underway
Guyanese authorities have dispatched military and private planes to the tiny mining town of Mahdia to airlift the survivors to the capital.
Ali said arrangements had been made so that "every single child who requires attention be given the best possible opportunity to get that attention" at the two main hospitals in Georgetown.
He also pledged to bring in psychologists and counsellors to help the girls and their families.
Natasha Singh-Lewis, an opposition MP, called for an investigation into the cause of the fire.
"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 is one of the poorest nations in South America and is home to 800,000 people. It boasts the second-highest percentage of forest cover of any country and the world's largest per capita oil reserves were also recently discovered.
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