At least 19 killed in Guatemala children's shelter fire

At least 19 teenage girls died Wednesday in a fire in an overcrowded Guatemala shelter for children under government care, following an overnight rebellion against staff accused of sexual abuse.

The BBC reported that the shelter takes in children who have been abandoned, suffered abuse or have been the victims of human trafficking.

He added that during Tuesday's rioting about 60 children had escaped from the home.

Nineteen female residents of the home - all between the ages of 13 and 17 - were killed in the blaze, the country's National Civil Police told CNN en Espanol.

"Twenty-five people with burns and 19 died in the rehabilitation center safe home in San José Pinula", the fire agency said in a statement.

The fire started with burning mattresses in one of the bedrooms, the Guatemala newspaper Prensa Libre reported. Some allege they have been mistreated or sexually abused.

She noted that past year the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had found in favour of several adolescents who had alleged mistreatment and sexual abuse in the shelter.

"According to what they say, the bigger kids have control and they attack them constantly", de Leon wrote.

Viva has also revealed to Premier that it has been asked by the Guatemalan government to help in the response effort to the Virgin of the Assumption fire in re-homing the now destitute children.

Conditions in the Central American nation's public institutions are often dismal with widespread overcrowding.

Following the fire, distraught relatives waited outside the walled facility to find out whether their children had been killed or injured.

At least 22 people were found dead Wednesday at the scene of a fire that broke out in a troubled orphanage in Guatemala. She said a group of disabled girls had been bused to another shelter as detectives scoured the site.

  • Todd Kelly