President to get final report from CoI into Mahdia deadly fire soon

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali (second from left) with members of the Commission of Inquiry into the Mahdia Secondary School Dormitory fire: Retired Major General Joe Singh (extreme left), Attorney-at-Law Kim Kyte-Thomas (second from right) and NTC Chairman Derrick John

The final report into the Mahdia Dormitory Fire, which took place in May and claimed the lives of 20 children, has been completed by the Commission of Inquiry (CoI).

This was confirmed by Secretary to the Commission, Javed Shadick on Friday. When contacted, he told this publication that the report would be handed over to President Irfaan Ali.

President Irfaan Ali had ordered a CoI into the circumstances surrounding the deadly incident. The ToR detailed that the commission would inquire into and report on everything leading up to the dormitory fire that claimed the lives of the 19 girls and the 5-year-old son of the dorm parents.

The May 21, inferno, which caught the attention of international media, resulted in the deaths of 19 female students between the ages of 12 and 17 and a five-year-old boy, who was the son of the dorm parents.

The dormitory housed students from the communities of Karisparu, El Paso, Micobie, and Chenapao, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni).

At the time of the fire, there were 56 females and a five-year-old boy inside. The remaining students had gone home for the weekend. The dormitory’s 26 windows were heavily grilled and the five doors were locked when the fire broke out.

According to the surviving female students, they were awakened from sleep by screams, and upon checking, they saw fire and smoke in the bathroom area. This quickly spread in the building, causing several students to receive burns to their bodies and to suffer from smoke inhalation, while several managed to escape. Several girls were air-dashed to Georgetown hours after for emergency treatment. One of them was later sent to New York at a specialised burn care facility for treatment owing to the severity of her condition.

A 15-year-old girl was charged in June with 20 counts of murder for the arson. She has since been detained at a juvenile holding facility. She was charged with the murders of Tracil Thomas; Lisa Roberts; Delicia Edwards; Lorita Williams; Natalie Bellarmine; Arriana Edwards; Cleoma Simon; Subrina John; Martha Dandrade; Loreen Evans; Belnisa Evans; Mary Dandrade; Omerfia Edwin; Nickleen Robinson; Sherina Daniels; Eulander Carter; Andrea Roberts; Bibi Rita Jeffrey, and five-year-old Adanye Jerome.

During his closing submission last month, Counsel to the CoI, Keoma Griffith had concluded that the Mahdia tragedy was a disaster waiting to happen – a deduction drawn after it was found that reports of the dormitory’s condition and need for intervention were overlooked by authorities, primarily the Guyana Fire Service and the regional administration.

As it relates to emergency response and intervention, the Commission’s Counsel also highlighted that the Government displayed concerted efforts to provide key assistance and support to grieving families, the injured, survivors, responders, and members of the community among other categories.

With the evidence collected, the cause of the fire at the dormitory is consistent with the reports of professionals who investigated the cause.

The panel heard that the fire was not caused by electrical malfunctions associated with the building and secondly, the cause of the fire was malicious and caused by a teenager who was already slapped with 20 murder charges.