Guyanese authorities said on Tuesday that a dormitory fire at a girls' boarding school in Guyana in which 19 girls died was incited by a female student after her cell phone was confiscated.
20 Guyanese Girls Die in the Mahdia School Dormitory Fire
"A female student is suspected of setting the devastating fire because the dorm mother and a teacher took her cell phone from her," police said in a statement.
According to Homeland Security Advisor Gerald Gouveia, the 16-year-old student had her phone confiscated after it was discovered that she was in a relationship with an adult male.
The suspect was being treated for burns at the Mahdia District Hospital and is expected to be released to a juvenile detention center, Guyana's Ministry of Health advisor Leslie Ramsammy has said. As for the man allegedly involved in a relationship with the student, Ramsammy said he is expected to face statutory rape charges.
The fire broke out late Sunday night at the Mahdia Secondary School, located about 200 miles south of the capital, Georgetown.
Following the fire, 30 other children were hospitalized, and nine remain hospitalized, many of them in serious condition. Thirteen bodies have been referred for DNA identification, while post-mortem examinations have been completed on the other six, said Clifton Hicken, Guyana's police commissioner.
According to a government pathologist, the cause of death of those six children was smoke inhalation and burns.
President Irfaan Ali declared three days of national mourning on Monday. He met with the parents of the deceased after visiting the Mahdia hospital.