Monday, 27 March, 2017

At least 17 teenage girls killed in shelter fire

Guatemala Fire kills 19 children at a shelter Google Maps
Juana Turner | 10 March, 2017, 00:29

Grieving relatives - who have gathered outside the home waiting for information about their children - said abuse was common at the centre and that younger children tried to flee from older residents who "regularly attack" them.

But local media say the shelter was also functioning as a juvenile detention centre, to which judges were sending adolescents involved in criminal cases. It's a government-run home for abused children and those leaving prison. Dozens of children run away in the past year, reportedly to escape ill treatment.

Nineteen female residents of the home - all between the ages of 13 and 17 - were killed in the blaze, the country's National Civil Police told CNN en Espanol.

"They were serving food to the teenagers when some of them started a fire in a mattress and that's how the fire was set", said Abner Paredes, a prosecutor defending children's rights.

Burnt bodies partially covered in blankets were strewn across the floor of a blackened room in the home, pictures posted to Twitter by the firefighters showed.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of more than 20 girls in the Hogar Seguro Virgen de la AsunciĆ³n shelter in Guatemala as a result of a fire in which many others were injured".

She said many frustrated people had gone to the hospitals to see if their relatives were there. They were taken to hospitals in Guatemala City.

Conditions in the Central American nation's public institutions are often dismal with widespread overcrowding.

At least 22 people were found dead Wednesday at the scene of a fire that broke out in a troubled orphanage in Guatemala.

Speaking to Premier, Andrew Dubock, from Viva, said: "I would implore the government there to do a thorough investigation.this sort of thing must not happen again". Some said they had been mistreated or sexually abused.

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