GUATEMALA CITY- (03/08/2017) A fire at an overcrowded children’s shelter near Guatemala City has left at least 19 children dead and dozens more injured.
Local hospitals have confirmed that roughly 40 children have been brought to the hospital to be treated for second-degree and third-degree burns. Many of the patients are also said to be in critical condition with the burns being life threatening.
The fire is said to have started around 9 a.m. at the Virgen de la Asunción after some of the children in the shelter lit their mattresses on fire in a form of protest. The adolescents rioted Tuesday in an effort to escape due to complaints of poor living conditions at the shelter.
At the time of the fire, an estimated 800 children were present, however the shelter was designed to hold only 500. Officials say that this less than ideal living environment is nothing new. While the state home was designed to be a place of refuge, numerous reports of sexual assault, abuse and even a case of murder.
Jimmy Morales, Guatemalan President, has declared three days of mourning and said that the fire will remain under investigation.