At Least 40 Girls Killed In Fire At Guatemalan Children’s Home After Alleged Rape

Guatemala has been left in a state of mourning since a children home’s fire claimed the lives of at least 40 girls.

According to the Associated Press, residents at the Virgin of the Assumption Safe House for troubled youth set a mattress ablaze to protest sexual assault on Wednesday (Mar. 8). Nineteen victims were found dead at the scene, while others succumbed to their injuries at hospitals throughout Guatemala City.

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“My daughter said the area was locked and that several girls broke down a door, and she survived because she put a wet sheet over herself,” Geovany Castillo said of his 15-year-old daughter, Kimberly. “She said the girls themselves set the fire. She said the girls told her that they had been raped and in protest they escaped, and that later, to protest, to get attention, they set fire to the mattresses.”

This isn’t the first time the government-run shelter, infamously marked by its scarce food supply and crowded, unsanitary conditions, has been accused of abuse.

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Guatemalan authorities have since arrested three child welfare officials responsible for overseeing the San Jose Pinula facility on suspicion of homicide, mistreatment of minors and failure to fulfill duty, ABC reports. President Jimmy Morales, who fired the chain of command at the agency, has also requested the FBI’s assistance in the ongoing investigation.

VIBE Viva sends our condolences to the families of all victims.