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Teacher who died saving kids in Brazil fire given award

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Relatives and friends attend the funeral of the teacher Helley Batista victim of the municipal daycare centre attack -where a watchman sprayed children with alcohol and set them on fire- at cemetery Saint Luke in Janauba, Minas Gerais state, Brazil on October 6, 2017. A Brazilian nursery school guard burned six small children and a teacher to death after spraying them with alcohol and setting them alight Thursday in an attack which has horrified the nation. / AFP PHOTO / O TEMPO / ALEX DE JESUS / Brazil OUT / ALTERNATIVE CROP

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.



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