Guatemala City, Guatemala, Mar 10, 2017 / 15:29 pm America/Denver (CNA).
There is mourning in Guatemala after at least 35 girls perished in a fire at a state-run home for youth, which had attracted widespread charges of abusive conditions and mistreatment.
The Church “greatly mourns a tragedy of this kind,” Auxiliary Bishop Raúl Antonio Martínez Paredes of the Archdiocese of Guatemala told CNA.
The fire occurred March 8 at the Virgin of the Assumption Safe Home. A group of girls and teenagers rioted to protest what they alleged was physical and sexual abuse at the facilities. Authorities said that some of the children set fire to mattresses and the fire then spread to the rest of the facility.
Gloria Castro, attorney for the children, told Guatemala’s Congress that the girls who died in the fire were unable to get out because they were locked in a room, apparently as a punishment. The previous night, some 60 children escaped from the center.
The center, located in the San Antonio area of the town of San José Pinula, was created to provide protection for about 400 girls and teenagers abandoned and at risk. However, it currently houses close to 750 children, including those in trouble with the law.