19 children killed in Guatemala child shelter fire

19 children killed in Guatemala child shelter fire

By: || Updated: 09 Mar 2017 08:07 AM

Handout picture released by Guatemalan Volunteer Firefighters showing three firefighters carrying the corpse of one of the the 20 victims of a fire at children's shelter Virgen de la Asuncion facility, in San Jose Pinula, about 10 kilometres east of Guatemala City, on March 8, 2017. At least 20 teenage girls died in a fire at a children's shelter in Guatemala, a spokesman for the local fire service said. It was not immediately known how many of the bodies were those of children. The center, supervised by state social welfare authorities, hosts minors who are victims of family mistreatment. The facility has been the target of multiple complaints alleging abuse, and several children have run away. / AFP PHOTO

Guatemala City: At least 19 children were killed in a fire early on Wednesday at a children's shelter in central Guatemala.

More than 20 other youngsters were taken to hospital with serious burns, after the blaze broke out at the Virgen de la Asuncion Shelter in San Jose Pinula, Xinhua news agency reported.

Handout picture released by Guatemalan Volunteer Firefighters showing three firefighters carrying the corpse of one of the the 20 victims of a fire at children's shelter Virgen de la Asuncion facility, in San Jose Pinula, about 10 kilometres east of Guatemala City, on March 8, 2017.  At least 20 teenage girls died in a fire at a children's shelter in Guatemala, a spokesman for the local fire service said. It was not immediately known how many of the bodies were those of children. The center, supervised by state social welfare authorities, hosts minors who are victims of family mistreatment. The facility has been the target of multiple complaints alleging abuse, and several children have run away. / AFP PHOTO / Guatemalan Volunteer Firefighters / HO / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /Guatemalan Volunteer Firefighters /HO " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS Three firefighters carrying the corpse of one of the the 19 victims of a fire at children's shelter Virgen de la Asuncion . / AFP

The daily Prensa Libre reported that the fire was started due to clashes in a dormitory.

"It was learned that the clash began in a dormitory, where they set fire to the mattresses they sleep on, and the flames spread to the rest of the facility and they were not able to escape," the daily newspaper said.

Relatives cry outside the children's shelter / AFP Relatives cry outside the children's shelter / AFP

Troubles began Tuesday night, with some 60 teenagers rioting over poor treatment and food at the shelter for children from broken homes.

The fatal victims burnt to death while those being treated in hospital have "second or third degree burns," Carlos Soto, director of the Roosevelt Hospital, told the daily.

According to Soto, 23 young women were being treated at the hospital, including 14 who were in serious condition.

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