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Michel Temer honours heroine of Janaúba with National Order of Merit

Tragedy

Heley de Abreu Silva Batista (43) has been awarded one of Brazil’s most distinguished decorations for saving multiple children from an arson fire at the Gente Inocente Municipal Education Centre
published: Oct 08, 2017 12:00 AM last modified: Oct 09, 2017 01:50 PM

This Sunday (8 October), President Michel Temer awarded teacher Heley de Abreu Silva Batista (43) with the National Order of Merit, one of the most distinguished decorations awarded by the Brazilian government. She died trying to save children from the fire at the Gente Inocente Municipal Education Centre in Janaúba (state of Minas Gerais).

In a statement, the Special Secretariat for Social Communication of the Presidency of the Republic noted that the National Order of Merit is awarded to those who have given examples of dedication and service to the country and Brazilian society. “[Such as] teacher Heley Batista, who sacrified her own life to save the lives of her students, showing courage and heroism that have touched us all”, said the statement.

On Thursday morning (5), a security guard set fire to the Gente Inocente Municipal Education Centre. Nine children and a teacher died as a result of the incident; 14 others were injured.

"First, I would like to express my solidarity to the families and to lament this event, hoping that these things do not happen again in Brazil. The world is too convulsed, and in a world convulsed as it is, many times, the most regrettable things happen”.

“This was an unfortunate event that we have to repudiate with our consciences and actions," said Temer to journalists.

Brazil's first lady, Marcela Temer, showed solidarity with the family of the victims. "At this time of grief and mourning, I send my sympathies to the mothers, fathers and family members who have lost their children and loved ones in this tragedy," she said.