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HomeWorldFire at Guatemala shelter claims lives of 30 girls

Fire at Guatemala shelter claims lives of 30 girls

GUATEMALA CITY Eight more girls died of injuries suffered in an arson fire at an overcrowded home for abused children in Guatemala, bringing the death toll to 30, authorities said on Thursday.

The fire broke out on Wednesday when some residents set mattresses ablaze following an escape attempt from the government-run Virgen de Asuncion home for youths aged up to 18, in San Jose Pinula, 25 km (15 miles) southwest of the capital, Guatemala City.

The girls whose deaths were announced on Thursday had been taken to hospitals in Guatemala City.

Authorities were investigating to determine if the fire was started by residents who had been isolated after a riot and escape attempt on Tuesday night.

Guatemala is plagued by Latin America’s worst rates of child malnutrition and street gangs like the Mara Salvatrucha that often prey on minors. Conditions in the Central American nation’s public institutions are often dismal and overcrowded.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Editing by Bill Trott)