At least 19 students have been killed in a fire at a secondary school dormitory in Guyana in South America, authorities have said.
The country’s government has said several other students were being treated for injuries after the fire in the southwestern border town of Mahdia.
At least six others were flown 200 miles to the capital Georgetown for treatment.
The fire began shortly after midnight local time at the school (5am UK time) that serves mostly indigenous children aged 12 to 18, according to national security adviser Gerald Gouveia.
Local newspaper Stabroek News reported that the fire broke out in a girls’ dormitory.
Mr Gouveia added it was too early to speculate what might have caused the fire, adding that heavy thunderstorms in the area posed a challenge to those responding by air.
“It was a battle for us,” he said. “The pilots were very brave, very determined.”
He added that the government and emergency responders “made a gigantic effort” to save as many people as possible.
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Guyana President Irfaan Ali said: “This is a horrific incident. It’s tragic. It’s painful.”
He added that his government was mobilising all resources to care for the children.
Mr Ali said officials were contacting parents and psychologists will help those affected by the fire.
“I cannot imagine the pain right now of the parents,” he said. “This is a major disaster.”
Opposition parliamentarian Natasha Singh-Lewis called for an in-depth investigation.
“We need to understand how this most horrific and deadly incident occurred and take all necessary measures to prevent such a tragedy from happening again in the future,” she said.