Tue | Jan 23, 2018

Death toll from Guatemala fire rises to 38

Published:Saturday | March 11, 2017 | 11:29 PM

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- A key Guatemalan official was ordered not to leave the country Saturday as the death toll rose to 38 girls in fire that began when mattresses were set ablaze during a protest by residents at a youth shelter.

Authorities continued searching over the weekend for answers in the disaster that has put a spotlight on alleged failings in Guatemala's child protective services.

The head of the protective services agency, Carlos Rodas, was ordered not to leave Guatemala by a judge yesterday while investigations into the blaze continue, according to prosecutors' spokeswoman Julia Barrera.

Authorities at the Roosevelt Hospital where many of the girls were taken for treatment of their burns said yesterday that another girl had died. Nineteen of the adolescents perished at the scene of the inferno last Wednesday and another 19 died later in local hospitals.

The president has blamed the government's "rigid" and "insensitive" system for dealing with troubled youths and has promised to reform protective services for some 1,500 minors currently living in youth shelters around the country.