GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales dismissed on Wednesday the director of the children’s shelter where a fire had killed 22 girls, and declared three days of national mourning.
In a message to the nation, Jimmy Morales said he is deeply saddened by the tragedy and that an investigation is probing the causes behind the incident.
“Prior to the incident, judicial organizations were requested for the immediate removal of minors in conflict with the law to other detention centers to avoid greater consequences. The Government of Guatemala regrets (...) that this request was not attended by courts at the right moment,” Morales said.
At least 22 children died and 39 others were hospitalized with two, three and four degree burns from a fire that broke out Wednesday in the Virgen de Asuncion home.
The fire, according to preliminary investigations, was started by some children to protest against alleged sexual and physical assaults at the center.
The shelter, located in the Havana municipality of San Jose Pinula, has a capacity of 400 but houses 748 children that include young orphans, victims of violence as well as members of criminal gangs and other offenders, family members reported.
Immediately after the incident, Morales had ordered the dismissal of the director and announced an internal administrative investigation.
In a televised message broadcast by the state channel, Morales spoke for a little less than 2 minutes, expressing his condolences to the dead and their families and solidarity with the injured.
The national flag located in the Constitution Square has been flying at half mast since Wednesday afternoon.