Pupil started deadly Guyana dorm fire over confiscated phone
The weekend school dormitory blaze that killed 19 minors in central Guyana was started by a disgruntled pupil angry at having her mobile phone confiscated, a government source told AFP on Tuesday.
An official police report confirmed that "a female student is suspected of having set the devastating fire because her cellular phone was taken away."
The official said the teenage pupil had admitted to the arson attack and was under police guard at the district hospital in the town of Mahdia.
Police are seeking advice on whether to charge her, the official said.
Sunday's inferno gutted a building housing girls aged 11-12 and 16-17.
As well as the dead, around 20 children were taken to hospital where two remain in critical condition.
"They (staff) took away the phone from the girl and the girl threatened the same night that she will burn down the building and everybody heard her," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The government official said that minutes later the girl went to the bathroom area and sprayed insecticide on a curtain before lighting a match.
The official said several pupils had recounted the same version of events.
Despite efforts by other students to extinguish the blaze, the official said the fire quickly swept through the wooden ceiling and eventually gutted the entire building.
"According to the female students, they were asleep and were awakened by screams," said the police report.
"Upon checking, they saw fire/smoke in the bathroom area, which quickly spread in the building, causing several students to receive burns to their bodies and smoke inhalation, while several managed to escape."
The girls were locked in for the night and a house mistress told police that in her panic she could not find the front door key. The building had metal bars on the windows preventing pupils from escaping through them.
The police report said there were 57 pupils in the dormitory, which was "a one-flat concrete building measuring about 100 feet by 40 feet, with several windows, all grilled, and five doors."