At least twenty people, the majority of them probably children, died in the fire of a dormitory of a school in the center of Guyana, in Mahdia, a landlocked mining town in this small country in the northeast of the ‘South America.
“Several other people were injured,” the government said in a statement released overnight from Sunday to Monday. Five planes have already taken off for Mahdia to help regional health officials provide additional medical equipment and carry out medical evacuations.
An emergency action plan deployed
“The President and other officials are supporting efforts at Ogle (Georgetown airport, the capital) to accommodate patients in critical condition and coordinate a medical emergency response plan,” according to the statement, which “calls for continue to pray for these children, their families and their communities”.
At least one plane with three evacuees arrived in Georgetown, noted an AFP journalist. “This is a major disaster. It’s horrible, it’s painful,” President Irfaan Ali had previously declared from the airport where he had gone to wait for help.
A security source told AFP on condition of anonymity that there were “many dead and injured”, stressing that the victims were “children”. Mahdia is located about 200 km south of Georgetown while the region is affected by heavy rains. “Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those affected by this tragedy,” said Natasha Singh-Lewis, Opposition MP.
“We call on the authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into the causes of the fire and to provide a detailed report on what really happened. We must understand how this horrific and deadly event happened and take all necessary measures to prevent such a tragedy from happening again in the future,” she added.
Small poor country with large oil reserves
A small poor English-speaking country of 800,000 inhabitants, the Guyana, a former Dutch and then British colony, has the largest per capita oil reserves in the world and hopes for rapid development in the years to come with the exploitation of these reserves which is still in its infancy.
Specialists estimate that the Guyana-Suriname basin contains around 15 billion barrels of oil reserves associated with significant gas deposits.