Death toll in Brazil nursery arson attack rises to eight

JANAÚBA, Brazil: Two children burned in an arson attack at a nursery school in Brazil succumbed to their wounds Friday, bringing the death toll to eight on the day the first victims were buried.

Cecilia Davine Dias and Yasmin Medeiros Salvino, both aged four, died early in the afternoon, a hospital spokesman in Monte Claros, a city in southeast Brazil, told AFP.

The tragedy unfolded Thursday morning in Janauba, a town of 70,000 people around 600km from Belo Horizonte, the state capital of Minas Gerais.

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, seven 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." — AFP