At least 20 children have died in a fire at a school dormitory in Guyana, with an unknown number of students injured.
The Guyanese government said the blaze began shortly after midnight at a secondary school that serves mostly indigenous children in the town of Mahdia, around 120 miles south-west of the capital Georgetown.
In a statement, it added that at least seven children had been flown to the capital for hospital treatment.
Efforts to fully evacuate the area and investigate the incident were being hampered by heavy thunderstorms in the area.
National Security Adviser Gerald Gouveia said the weather was making life hard for those travelling by air to the scene.
He said: ‘It was a battle for us, the pilots were very brave, very determined.’
Local newspaper Stabroek News reported that the fire broke out in a girls’ dormitory.
A statement from the government’s department for public information said: ‘It is with heavy heart and pain that the cabinet is being briefed and kept updated on a horrific fire at the dormitory in Mahdia.
‘All efforts are being made to have a full-scale medical evacuation-supported response.
‘However, the inclement weather and heavy overcast condition are posing severe challenges to this exercise.
‘The Ministry of Health and the Joint Services are collaborating to address the situation.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with our children and their families at this time. We will continue to update as information becomes available.’
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