Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Survivor from Guatemala's children's shelter fire relives ordeal that ki...



A 16-year-old survivor from a blaze at a children's home in Guatemala that killed 39 people has recounted her ordeal to Reuters, saying that officials locked the girls in a room whilst the fire spread. The inferno took place in a 16-square (52-feet-) -metre classroom packed with 52 teenagers in the Virgin de la Asuncion home in Guatemala City. According to reports, the girls had been locked in the room and given thin mattresses.

This girl is one of the few survivors to emerge relatively unscathed physically from the blaze. She has since left the shelter and is now back at home with her adopted family in the Mayan town of Santiago Sacatepequez. She recounted the night of the tragedy that saw many minors burnt to death. "They (officials from shelter) had us locked up. There was a little fire, I thought it would just be small but no. Another (official) wanted us dead as well. It started (the fire) as the mattresses were all together so all the mattresses went up in fire. Then they (girls) started to yell and they (officials) thought that they (girls) wanted to get out but when they saw the smoke they reacted and then they went to get water, went to the police officers and started throwing water," said the 16-year-old survivor.

Police and witnesses say the fire appeared to have been started by one of the girls, who set light to a mattress in the room, possibly as a protest after hours inside. The trauma from the tragedy saw this survivor refuse to eat until she was returned to her family.
"I was scared, I went running down (to the floor), I was traumatised, I was sitting on the bed and I didn't want to go outside. My counsellor told me to eat, to eat and I told her no that I wanted to go home," she added.

This survivor had been living in the home for two years. She was admitted into the shelter following problems with alcohol and reported theft of money from her adopted mother. The mother told that it was not God's will for her daughter to die in the blaze. "God did not want her (survivor) to die, thank God she is alive. They (officials) pulled her out, she was hiding under a bed. They pulled her out and hit her with a tube," she said.

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