Five teenage girls died when a juvenile detention was engulfed by flames as police investigated a melee by inmates, Jamaican authorities said.
St Ann parish police said in a statement yesterday that officers were assailed with stones and other projectiles when they were summoned to quell rowdy behavior at Armadale Juvenile Center.
During an investigation into the violence, a fire swept through a section of the lockup, trapping some of the girls inside.
Police managed to rescue most of the inmates but the charred remains of five girls, three 17-year-olds and two 15-year-olds, were found after the fire was put out. About a dozen girls were hospitalised with burns.
National Security Minister Dwight Nelson said the tragedy has shocked Jamaican authorities and he called for a thorough investigation into the fire and the police response.
Counseling was being provided for the 45 youthful inmates who survived the fire and for relatives of the killed girls.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding's government said it would assist with funeral expenses.