PRESS RELEASE | “Youth hostel system failed. 3 young women perish in fire.”
Belmopan | 30th November 2015
At around 2 p.m. on November 28th, 2015 there was a very unfortunate fire at the Princess Royal Youth Hostel located at mile 21 on the George Price Highway in the village of Rockville, Belize District, which caused the deaths of 3 young women.
It was reported that the cause of the fire was due to one of the young women playing with a lighter, setting a pillow on fire in the room they were locked away in, which then got out of control and caused their untimely demise.
The BPP has some concerns about the official report of this incident. What we would like to know are:
Why were these young women unsupervised, even though this is the 3rd time such a fire incident has occurred at this particular youth hostel?
How did authorities know that one of the young women set the pillow on fire while locked away in a room?
It is alleged that these young women were in an altercation before being locked away. If this is so, why were they put in the same room?
Why did authorities need to break the door? If these young women were locked in a room, and thus the door would have been locked from the outside, why wasn’t a key used to open the door? Who is responsible for the keys to the rooms that are used to lock away youths at this hostel? Did one of the young women lock the door from the inside?
Was this an unfortunate murder suicide?
What are the procedures and protocols at the hostel in case of fire?
It is our humble opinion proper protocols were not followed, or don’t exist, and thus led to this very unfortunate incident. A simple decision such as putting these three young women in separate rooms, and searching their person before locking them away, could have mitigated any tension and potentially stop this incident from occurring.
One of the BPP's guiding principles is that we must build people first, then we can build a nation, which is real progress. In this particular situation, our young people are in this youth hostel because of physical and psychological trauma; locking them away in a room unsupervised seems inhumane and uncaring. These young people need professional human resources and infrastructure made available to them, so that they can be taken care of and re-assimilated into society as healthy, productive citizens.
We call on this government to do a thorough investigation. The DPP must leave no stones unturned. We also call on this government to invest in building our people.
Our deepest and most sincere condolences go out to the families of Anna Melinda Carlos (16 years old), Elizabeth McKoy (14 years old) and Shadisha Alma Arnold (16 years old).
END OF RELEASE