A crowd of family, some wailing with grief, gathered exterior the government-run Virgen de Asuncion residence for teens aged as much as 18, in San Jose Pinula, 25 km (15 miles) southwest of the capital, Guatemala Metropolis.
Native hospitals reported a minimum of 40 others being handled for burns.
The blaze began when a bunch of younger individuals who had been remoted by authorities after a riot and an escape try on the centre on Tuesday evening set fireplace to mattresses, mentioned Nery Ramos, head of Guatemala’s nationwide police.
Authorities have been investigating whether or not those that began the blaze have been the identical ones who tried to flee, Ramos added.
“What occurred is extraordinarily severe, and much more so for the truth that it may have been prevented,” Anabella Morfin, Guatemala’s solicitor normal, instructed a information convention.
“This could by no means have occurred.”
Burnt our bodies partially coated in blankets have been strewn throughout the ground of a blackened room within the residence, photos posted to Twitter by the firefighters confirmed.
President Jimmy Morales declared three days of nationwide mourning, and the federal government criticised situations on the residence.
Mayra Veliz, secretary normal of the legal professional normal’s workplace, pledged a clear investigation into the reason for the blaze. She mentioned a bunch of disabled ladies had been bussed to a different shelter as detectives scoured the positioning.
Suffering from Latin America’s worst charges of kid malnutrition and avenue gangs just like the Mara Salvatrucha that always prey on minors, Guatemala generally is a traumatic place to develop up. Circumstances within the Central American nation’s public establishments are sometimes dismal with widespread overcrowding.
On Tuesday evening, riot police went in to quell unrest over the house’s situations. Dozens of residents escaped, however 54 have been recaptured and remoted, Ramos mentioned.
The Virgen de Asuncion residence has lengthy suffered from overcrowding, with Guatemalan media reporting that greater than 500 folks have been crammed into the centre designed to accommodate 400.
Distraught family mentioned abuse was frequent on the centre, which is run by the Ministry for Social Welfare, and presidential spokesman Heinz Heimann condemned what he described because the shelter’s open dwelling preparations.
“It should not be attainable that ladies who merely have been struggling, that did not have any issues with the regulation, are combined with younger individuals who have dedicated crimes,” Heimann mentioned.
Home employee Alicia Lopez, 50, had been exterior the house for hours looking for out what occurred to her autistic 12-year-old son who got here to the centre with a drug dependancy. She mentioned he had been raped there final week.
“I nonetheless haven’t got info. … I need justice for him,” Lopez mentioned on the residence, which takes in deserted youngsters in addition to victims of abuse and trafficking.
Andrea Palomo instructed reporters in tears that she had introduced her 15-year-old son to the house to self-discipline him. He instructed her he was mistreated and complained that gang members there tattooed the youngsters, she mentioned.
Guatemala’s ombudsman for human rights decides whether or not youngsters are positioned within the residence and a few dad and mom praised it.
Cristina Puac, 59, mentioned her adopted teenage daughter Gladys was positioned there for being rebellious and aggressive, and stealing issues.
“Once I got here to see her, all the things appeared high quality,” she mentioned. “She by no means complained about something.”