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Parents of Girls Who Survived a Dorm Fire in Guyana sue the Government

The parents of two teenage girls that survived a dorm fire that killed 20 people at a high school dormitory for indigenous girls, have sued the Government and accused authorities of negligence. This fire took place last year. Investigators of the fire have claimed that it was set deliberately by a student who was upset that her mobile phone had been confiscated. 

Attorney Eusi Anderson, representing the parents, accused the Government of the following failures: equipping the school with the required fire equipment, properly training the staff in emergency space and management methods, and providing marked, well-lit exit routes, fire extinguishers and other emergency equipment. 

For this accusation, the lawsuit is seeking more than $50,000 for each of the two unidentified girls. These two fourteen-year-old children were rescued by authorities and residents from the fire in May last year. The fire took place in the Mahdia dormitory, which is near the Guyana border with Brazil. 

Though they survived, the girls suffered immense trauma - both physically and psychologically. The girls suffered severe body burns, smoke inhalation, and mental trauma after witnessing so many deaths during the fire. One of the two has said that she has trouble sleeping and “difficulty communicating and engaging with peers.

The attorney argues that the Government is fully responsible for the damage caused by the fire since the girls were under the Governments’ care at all times when this event took place. The defendant of the case - Guyana’s Attorney General Anil Nandlall - was not available for comment. 

After the fire took place in May 2023, in July 2023 Guyana’s Government said it would pay $25,000 to the parents of each of the 20 people who died in the fire. 

A Government-appointed commission was also made responsible for investigating the operations and structures of the dormitory that allowed such a catastrophic event to take place. The commission stated that: “there was no fire alarm system, no fire detection system, no exit signs and no smoke detection system. There were only three fire extinguishers provided in the buildings and grills were seen on all the windows.”

The commission proceeded to recommend that the Government improve safety conditions in dormitories - installing extinguishers and sprinkler systems, for example.

Dormitories are common practice in Guyana’s rural interior to make educational facilities more accessible to the spread-out population.  


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