A fire killing dozens at an overcrowded residential facility for youth on the outskirts of Guatemala City has provoked broad outrage. Health authorities have reported 40 girls dead and 23 hospitalized as a result of the blaze in the female section of the facility. Nine of the survivors are reportedly connected to respirators and “can die at any moment.”
The case has been a scandal in Guatemala, especially after it emerged that the girls had been locked in a classroom after an escape attempt at the Virgen de la Asunción Safe Home. The girls set mattresses on fire to try to get someone’s attention.
The government has since taken the tragedy more seriously. It has arrested the director of Hogar Seguro and the social-services secretary, promised changes and asked UNICEF for help.