Guatemala minister resigns over fire that killed 40

Funerals started on Friday, with some of the bodies identified through DNA samples.

Published: 14th March 2017 06:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th March 2017 06:19 AM   |  A+A-

A man holds a sign with a message that reads in Spanish: 'In Guatemala there is no president,' during a protest demanding justice for the girls who perished in the youth shelter fire, in front of the National Palace in Guatemala City, Saturday, March 11,


Guatemala City: Guatemala's minister for social welfare, Carlos Rodas, offered his resignation after a blaze in a government-run children's shelter killed 40 teenage girls. In his letter to President Jimmy Morales yesterday, Rodas said he was handing in his notice in order to "contribute to the objective investigation into the tragedy." He said he had not resigned earlier because he first needed to oversee the counseling and medical treatment of survivors at the shelter, and their transfer to other refuges.

The fire that broke out last Wednesday in the badly overcrowded Virgin of the Assumption Safe Home for children just to the east of Guatemala City killed 19 girls right away. The other deaths came as girls taken to hospitals succumbed over subsequent days to horrific burns that had also damaged their throats and lungs. All the victims were aged between 14 and 17.

Funerals started on Friday, with some of the bodies identified through DNA samples. Another seven girls were in critical condition. Five of them were flown to a hospital in the United States for specialised treatment. An investigation is seeking to determine the cause and circumstances of the fire.

Initial information suggested the girls might have started the blaze themselves, setting alight mattresses to protest cruel treatment by staff in the facility, including sexual abuse. Hundreds of demonstrators on Saturday rallied in front of Morales' presidential palace, accusing authorities of negligence and demanding punishment. Morales yesterday said he had requested that the FBI and international organisations help in the investigation, to make the process transparent.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp