Guyanese officials say that at least 20 children have died in a fire.
Yesterday, even as medical evacuation efforts continued in light of the devastating fire that claimed the lives of at least 20 children at a dormitory in the central mining town of Mahdia, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), and left others injured or in critical condition, President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali was preparing to travel to meet with the relatives of the deceased and injured.
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National Security Advisor, Gerry Gouveia, made the disclosure to the media on Monday morning at the Ogle International Airport, where an emergency centre has been set up to examine and transfer patients to the Ocean View Intensive Care Hospital and Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
Gouveia noted that the medevac is a national effort that is still ongoing, and expressed respect and appreciation for those pilots and personnel who responded immediately.
President Irfaan Ali said, “This is a major disaster. It is horrible, it is painful.”
He advised that medical teams were stationed at the airport, and that Georgetown’s two major hospitals would be prepared “so that every single child who requires attention be given the best possible opportunity to get that attention”.
Gouveia shared: “It was really a national effort and still continues. All the operators—Trans Guyana, Roraima, GDF, the Air Force— responded immediately as the horrific details came to us this morning. It was a battle for us, because of the weather. There was a lot of lightning and thunder, and Mahdia is in the mountains. [But] the pilots were very brave and very determined, and the air services pilots were already on the ground, so we were able to alert them, and they brought out the first three sets of patients.
“It was really a massive operation, and one that was done in very dangerous conditions, but… this is a case where everybody put their shoulder to the wheel, and they made a gigantic effort to try to save who we could have saved. And I think a great effort was made,” he noted.
The fire broke out just after midnight on Monday, at a secondary school dormitory trapping students aged 12 through 18.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley issued the following statement on the fire and loss of life at the Mahdia Secondary School in Guyana:
“Prime Minister The Honourable Mia Amor Mottley has offered her condolences and pledged to support to the Co‑operative Republic of Guyana, following the devastating fire that struck the Mahdia Secondary School, Mahdia, late Sunday night, claiming the lives of 19 children.
In a statement today, Prime Minister Mottley said: “What has happened in Guyana is a tragedy that words simply cannot describe. It is a moment in which Barbados and entire Caribbean joins with Guyana in sharing their pain and loss. It is also a moment in which we rally with our Caribbean friends and family to aid in the healing and rebuilding process.”
“On behalf of the Government and the people of Barbados, I offer my most sincere condolences and have offered to His Excellency, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, the Government and the people of Guyana, any support they will need during this painful and difficult time,” she added.