Guatemala has declared three days of mourning after a fire in a government-run children’s shelter killed twenty two teenage girls and focused attention on allegations of sexual and other abuse in the facility.
Officials said most of the victims died of burns suffered from the fire in the Virgin of the Assumption Safe Home in San Jose Pinula, ten kilometers east of Guatemala City.
A total of thirty eight other people were injured, 16 of them in critical condition, hospital, President Jimmy Morales said that he has ordered the dismissal of the shelter’s director.
The fire was believed to have started during an overnight rebellion in the center, which holds nearly double the four hundred people it was designed to house.
Human rights activists held a vigil Wednesday night, lighting candles and placing flowers outside the shelter and in the main square in Guatemala City. Reports say those killed were aged between fourteen and seventeen.