Arson suspected in fire that destroyed Karasabai hostel
Four teenagers have been detained in relation to the fire that destroyed the St Angela’s Girls’ Hostel in Karasabai Village, Region Nine.
The News Room understands that the fire started at around 03:00 hrs on Thursday and from all indications, it appears to be an act of arson.
According to one of the Sisters who manages the hostel, threats were reportedly made on Wednesday to set the building on fire. The News Room understands that some boys were reportedly told to stop coming to the hostel to “trouble” the girls.
Additionally, villagers claimed that when the fire first started, they saw some boys riding away from the hostel.
Seventeen students were at the time being accommodated at the hostel and all escaped unharmed.
The hostel was constructed by the Catholic Church to ease the burden of students staying with guardians in the village. The students are from the surrounding communities and are attending school at the Karasabai Secondary Department.
The Sister, who was speaking during a meeting with government officials led by Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, on Thursday, applauded residents for their efforts in extinguishing the fire and preventing it from spreading to the hostel’s store room and library.
“Thankfully, all our children are safe and our sisters who were in the same building are all safe,” the Sister stated.
Several days ago, the female dormitory of the Mahdia Secondary School was gutted by fire. A total of 20 children, 19 girls, and one boy, died after that fire.
“The whole country is terrified now. We don’t want to be known for this problem here, the whole world knows we lost 19 young girls and one boy in a fire allegedly set by a student in the dorm,” Minister Benn told residents at Karasabai.
He urged parents, residents, and community leaders to “talk more” with each other while noting that doctors from Georgetown have also flown to the community to offer counseling to the affected students.
“We want to assure you of our unreserved support in this matter, we don’t want to lose our children and we don’t want hurt and trauma in the communities,” Minister Benn stated.
Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer, Saddam Hussain said the most important concern at this time is the single student who is sitting the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams.
“I want to give full assurances on behalf of the Minister of Education that we will do all that we can within the next 24-48 hours to ensure that there is a degree of normalcy,” Hussain said.
While the Education Ministry has assembled a team to assist residents and students, the Regional Administration has identified the Amerindian Hostel in the village to house the students in the interim.
Beds, mattresses, sheets, pillows, and care packages are also being prepared.
Additionally, two dorm parents, along with two security guards and a cleaner, will soon be employed to ensure that the dormitory is fully operational.