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AP Photo/Luis Soto
World News

Call for prayer as 22 girls die in Guatemala fire

by Aaron James

Viva's speaking after the fire started at the Virgin of the Assumption shelter near the capital Guatemala City on Wednesday. It's a government-run home for abused children and those leaving prison.

A riot began on Wednesday at the children's home when a resident set fire to a mattress in the female section.

It's believed the kids' difficult backgrounds, overcrowding and allegations of abuse were all factors in the cause of the riot.

Authorities have since admitted while the shelter should officially only have up to 500 residents, around 800 have been staying there - prompting concerns that living standards were poor.

Dozens were also injured in the fire, some with life-threatening burns. Hundreds have been made homeless as a result of the centre's destruction.

AP Photo/Luis Soto
A woman who learned her child died in a fire is held by her sister
AP Photo/Moises Castillo
Relatives listen for new information about the injured
AP Photo/Luis Soto
National Police guard the entrance to the children's shelter

President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales held a minute's silence for the 22 girls who died at a pre-planned International Women's Day event yesterday. He's also declared three days of national mourning.

Speaking to Premier, Andrew Dubock, from Viva, said: "I would implore the government there to do a thorough investigation...this sort of thing must not happen again.

"Pray for these girls' families, the others who're suffering with burns and the several hundred who're now homeless. Let's really pray that the situation will improve."

Viva has also revealed to Premier that it has been asked by the Guatemalan government to help in the response effort to the Virgin of the Assumption fire in re-homing the now destitute children.

Listen to Premier's Aaron James speaking to Andrew Dubock:

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