Classifieds 50% off, use promo code FBkpkPromo The Phuket News Kata Rocks The Phuket News Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort
The Phuket News World News
The Phuket News Phuket | Thailand | World | Business | Q&A | Weird World XML, RSS, Feed
The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News

Guatemala in mourning after blaze kills 20 girls in shelter

GUATEMALA: Guatemala declared three days of mourning after a blaze yesterday (Mar 8) in a government-run children’s shelter killed 20 teenage girls and focused national attention on allegations of sexual and other abuse in the facility.

accidents, death, sex, violence, police,


AFP

Thursday 9 March 2017, 09:29AM


Relatives cry outside the children’s shelter Virgen de la Asuncion, after a fire killed at least 20 people. Photo: AFP
Relatives cry outside the children’s shelter Virgen de la Asuncion, after a fire killed at least 20 people. Photo: AFP

All those killed were aged between 14 and 17.

Most appeared to have died of burns in the fire that occurred in the Virgin of the Assumption Safe Home in San Jose Pinula, 10 kilometres east of Guatemala City, officials said.

Dozens of survivors were treated for serious burns in several of the capital’s hospitals. One, Roosevelt Hospital, said it had 24 wounded, six of them in critical condition.

The blaze was believed to have started during an overnight rebellion in the packed centre, which holds nearly double the 400 people it was designed to house.

“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.

“It was a ticking time bomb. This was to be expected,” one of the centre's former employees, Angel Cardenas, said outside.

He said he had lodged several warnings about conditions inside.

At the entrance of the facility – whose imposing, barbed wire-topped concrete wall showed no sign of the drama inside – crying relatives crowded the entrance. They were searching for news of the children kept there. Police blocked access to them and to journalists.

A few survivors were seen hugging kin on the pine tree-lined road. But many other family members were left in the dark.

“They don’t want to give any information at all,” stormed Rosa Aguirre, a 22-year-old street vendor who had rushed from the capital to see if her two sisters, aged 13 and 15, and her 17-year-old brother were among the casualties.

She said many frustrated people had gone to the hospitals to see if their relatives were there.

Aguirre said she, too, had lodged past complaints about how the centre’s charges were treated, but received no attention.

She said brawls broke out inside often, and her brother was sometimes put in a dark isolation cell nicknamed the “chicken coop”.

She said she had tried in vain to be given custody of her siblings after their mother’s death four months ago.

BIS

Guatemalan media said the shelters’ occupants had revolted overnight and into yesterday against alleged sexual abuse by staff, and over poor food and conditions.

The United Nations children’s fund UNICEF called the fire and the deaths a “tragedy”. It added in a Twitter post that “these children and adolescents must be protected”.

The centre, supervised by state authorities, hosts minors under age 18 who are victims of domestic violence or found living on the street.

They are sent there by court order and are under the responsibility of the social welfare ministry.

The shelter has been the target of multiple complaints alleging abuse. Dozens of children have run away in the past year, reportedly to escape ill treatment inside.

Reports that could not be verified said that dozens of residents had attempted to flee the facility late Tuesday (Mar 7).

Guatemala’s government expressed its distress at the deadly fire and decreed three days of mourning.

A prosecutor for upholding children’s rights, Hilda Morales, told reporters she was requesting the shelter be closed due to welfare authorities’ inability to manage it.

“We are going to ask for the immediate closure of the centre, and attribute administrative and criminal responsibility against those in charge of the centre for not fulfilling their duty,” she said.

She noted that last year the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had found in favour of several adolescents who had alleged maltreatment and sexual abuse in the shelter.

She stressed that those sent to the centre should receive “better protection” than in their families where they were abused.

Another prosecutor tasked with protecting children in the country, Harold Flores, told the radio station Emisoras Unidas that since last year complaints had surged against the shelter over minors fleeing to escape alleged sexual abuse there.

He said an investigation was under way to find the reasons and those responsible for yesterday's tragedy.

In Guatemala’s Congress, lawmakers held a minute of silence for the victims of the fire before demanding those in charge of the centre be dismissed.

 

 

The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Comment on this story
* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.
Comments Here:
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
CAPTCHA
    Forget your password?

Be the first to comment.

The Phuket News
The Phuket News The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Share this
The Phuket News
Have a news tip-off? Click here
The Phuket News
Related stories
The Phuket News
Phuket community

Recent Comments


Toilet mishap leaves Phuket student hospitalised

@kurt You think anyone would sit on a squat toilet?...(Read More)


Toilet mishap leaves Phuket student hospitalised

Christy...because it's a normal floor covering used everywhere in the world - since Roman times. What do you want? Carpet? Just let them know....(Read More)


DSI: 42 luxury cars stolen in Europe shipped to Bangkok

Kurt...you are showing your total ignorance again. If you read the article it says.."they were reported as being stolen after the first instalmen...(Read More)


Phuket top-brass police transferred, face corruption probe

Pardon me, but I just don't understand why corrupt and criminal police are just shifted to some other less popular post. It's like taking the...(Read More)


Areas in Phuket Town to have water shut off tomorrow

Pauly44...you listen to what is being said, "how do you know it was not announced? Because no word of it in PN?" Pure guessing on the part o...(Read More)


Russian man, passenger die after motorbike hits power pole in Patong

Seems that parked cars, power poles and slippery roads on Phuket are real killers....(Read More)


Toilet mishap leaves Phuket student hospitalised

What is the purpose of the Thai propensity for slick floor tiling that is like ice when wet? Easier to clean or it "looks" better ? I sl...(Read More)


Phuket top-brass police transferred, face corruption probe

the usual penalty just move them to a quiet town away from a popular place like phuket...(Read More)


Toilet mishap leaves Phuket student hospitalised

Kurt...LOL. Good lord, signs? how about a sign to be careful on tiles when walking? or watch door...it is closed. ...(Read More)


Phuket truck owner donates B20k towards Sophie Anderson’s funeral

Paully44...how on earth can I be "grossly over analyzing" your comments. At least if you are going to say something make sure it's right...(Read More)

The Phuket News
Bangkok Hospital Phuket
PHUKET NEWS
Phuket
Thailand
World
Business
Q A
Weird World
ARCHIVE
POLL
CURRENCY
WEATHER
PHUKET TIDE TABLE
The Phuket News PHUKET LIFE
Phuket Arts
Phuket Community
Phuket Culture
Phuket Dining
Phuket Education
Phuket Entertainment
Phuket Environment
Phuket Health
Phuket People
Phuket Technology
Phuket Travel
Photo Galleries
COLOURING BOOK
The Phuket News PHUKET SPORT
Phuket
Thailand
World
SURF REPORT
PREDICTIONS
The Phuket News PHUKET CLASSIFIEDS
Phuket Buy and Sell
Phuket Jobs
Phuket Property
Phuket Cars and Boats
Phuket Community
Phuket Services
SEARCH CLASSIFIEDS
POST CLASSIFIED
The Phuket News The Phuket News PHUKET EVENTS
Phuket Event listings
Phuket Event calendar
Buy Tickets
POST EVENT
The Phuket News PHUKET DIRECTORY
Phuket Bars, pubs and clubs
Phuket Hotels and villas
Phuket Restaurants
Phuket Yellow Pages
POST LISTING
The Phuket News BARGAINS
The Phuket News ABOUT US
The Company
Distribution points
Subscribe
Advertise with us
Pay for advert
Contact us
CONTESTS
Content Google Map
Site map
Australian Visa Services
 
Currency - The Phuket News   Weather Report - The Phuket News   Surf Report - The Phuket News
LinkedIn - The Phuket News   Twitter - The Phuket News   YouTube - The Phuket News   Facebook - The Phuket News
Copyright © 2017 Class Act Media. All rights reserved. | Website usage terms and conditions | Privacy and Confidentiality Statement.