Firefighters, rescue workers and residents gather outside the Virgen de Asuncion home in San Jose Pinula, near Guatemala City, Guatemala, on March 8, 2017. According to a spokesman for firefighters, at least 19 people were killed in a fire on Wednesday in a Guatemalan juvenile center. (Xinhua/Gonzalo Perez)
GUATEMALA CITY, March 8 (Xinhua) -- At least 19 children were killed in a fire early Wednesday at a children's shelter in central Guatemala, local media reported.
More than 20 other youngsters were taken to hospital with serious burns, after the blaze broke out at the Virgen de la Asuncion Shelter in San Jose Pinula.
The daily Prensa Libre reported the fire was started due to clashes in a dormitory.
"It was learned that the clash began in a dormitory, where they set fire to the mattresses they sleep on, and the flames spread to the rest of the facility and they were not able to escape," the daily newspaper said.
Troubles began Tuesday night, with some 60 adolescents rioting over poor treatment and food at the shelter for children from broken homes.
The fatal victims burnt to death while those being treated in hospital have "second or third degree burns," Carlos Soto, director of the Roosevelt Hospital, told the daily.
According to Soto, 23 young women were being treated at the hospital, including 14 who were in serious condition.