A fire incident that razed a secondary school dormitory has killed no fewer than 20 children in the mining town of Mahdia, central Guyana, on Monday.
Officials said that students were trapped during the incident as the emergency services are struggling to contain the fire because of bad weather conditions.
Several more people have been injured and some are being prepared for evacuation to the capital, Georgetown, where a special centre has been established.
“This is a major disaster. It is horrible, it is painful,” said Guyanese President Irfaan Ali.
Ali said medical teams were stationed at the airport, 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”.
Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn visited the scene of the disaster, and the prime minister and other government officials are on their way there.
“It is with heavy heart and pain that the Cabinet is being briefed and kept updated on a horrific fire at the dormitory in Mahdia. All efforts are being made to have a full-scale medical evacuation-supported response,” the government’s Department of Public Information said in a statement.
Guyana is located between Venezuela and Suriname on the northern coast of South America.