Teacher who died saving kids in Brazil fire given award - Emirates24|7

Teacher who died saving kids in Brazil fire given award

Pic: AFP

Brazil's President Michel Temer on Sunday honored a nursery school teacher who died while rescuing children from a blaze set deliberately by a security guard, killing nine people.

Temer posthumously awarded the National Order of Merit to Heley de Abreu Silva Batista, who "gave her own life to save the lives of her students," the presidency said in a statement.

Batista, 43, worked at the nursery school in Janauba, a small town about 370 miles (600 km) from the state capital of Minas Gerais.

Last Thursday, the security guard, who authorities say suffered mental problems, entered and sprayed students with flammable alcohol before setting fire to the building.

The teacher and eight children died, as did the guard. Another 40 people were treated in hospital.

Batista reportedly struggled with the guard and helped evacuate children. "It was a gesture of courage and heroism that touched everyone," Temer said.

Death toll in Brazil nursery arson attack rises to nine

A girl who was burned in an arson attack at a nursery school in Brazil succumbed to her wounds on Saturday, bringing the overall death toll to nine people.

The four-year-old girl had been transferred to a hospital in Belo Horizonte , the state capital of Minas Gerais, some 370 miles (600 kilometers) north of the small town of Janauba where the attack occurred, according to Folha de Sao Paulo, a local newspaper.

A security guard at the nursery sprayed his young victims with alcohol before setting fire to the building. He himself died from burns a few hours later.

According to local authorities, he had suffered from mental health issues since 2014.

In total, eight four-year-old children were killed, along with a teacher aged 43. Another 40 people were treated at three hospitals in the region.

Dozens gathered for the first funerals of victims at a cemetery in Janauba on Friday afternoon, according to an AFP photographer.

Small white coffins were opened for a few minutes as devastated family members wept.

"What has happened is inexplicable. I have no words. When I heard about the fire on the radio, I immediately thought of my grandchildren. I was sure something had happened to them," said Antonio Pereira da Silva, who buried his granddaughter.

The mayor of Janauba declared seven days of mourning, while Brazil's President Michel Temer expressed his solidarity with the victims of the "tragedy."

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