NEW LEAD MAY POINT TO AR­SON

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are re­view­ing CCTV footage

New Straits Times - - News / Story Of The Day -

KUALA LUMPUR

IN­VES­TI­GA­TIONS into Thurs­day’s tah­fiz school fire may veer to­wards the pos­si­bil­ity of foul play. This fol­lows a new lead which of­fi­cials dis­cov­ered yes­ter­day dur­ing the course of in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the 5am blaze at Darul Qu­ran It­ti­faqiyah tah­fiz school which saw 23 souls per­ish.

Sources close to the par­al­lel in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­ing car­ried out by po­lice and Fire and Res­cue Depart­ment said they were con­vinced yes­ter­day that the fire was not an ac­ci­dent after re­view­ing closed-cir­cuit tele­vi­sion (CCTV) cam­era footage ob­tained nearby.

A high-rank­ing source con­firmed yes­ter­day that author­i­ties were look­ing into the pos­si­bil­ity that this was an ar­son case.

“From an ini­tial probe, we sus­pected that the fire in­volved el­e­ments of foul play. This theory was backed by a new lead after author­i­ties re­viewed CCTV record­ings earlier today (yes­ter­day).”

An­other source with knowl­edge of the on­go­ing probes, mean­while told the New Straits Times that in­ves­ti­ga­tors found traces of petrol in front of the door to the dor­mi­tory, where the vic­tims had been trapped.

This, was also where in­ves­ti­ga­tors on Thurs­day found two cylin­ders which did not be­long to the school, after the fire had been put out.

The fuel, the source said could have been the ac­cel­er­ant in the fire.

A war­den of the school who sur­vived the fire, Mohd Arif Mawardi, had said that dur­ing rou­tine checks be­fore bed­time at 11pm on Wed­nes­day night, he did not see the gas cylin­ders on the floor .

Mean­while, it is un­der­stood that a stu­dent of the school had been de­tained to fa­cil­i­tate in­ves­ti­ga­tions. Sources said the stu­dent, be­lieved to have left the school sev­eral hours be­fore the in­ci­dent, was taken by po­lice to the scene yes­ter­day.

In­spec­tor-Gen­eral of Po­lice Tan Sri Mo­hamad Fuzi Harun, yes­ter­day how­ever said the stu­dent was not con­sid­ered a sus­pect Closed-cir­cuit tele­vi­sion cam­era footages show­ing fig­ures at a premises next to the Darul Qu­ran It­ti­faqiyah tah­fiz school at Kam­pung Datuk Kera­mat. but was merely as­sist­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

An­other source told the NST that the in­ci­dent could have pos­si­bly been mo­ti­vated by re­venge.

“There was in­for­ma­tion that there had been a fight be­tween stu­dents of the re­li­gious school re­cently. We can’t say for sure yet, or con­nect it to the fire.”

A source said CCTV cam­eras at Mus­lim Con­sumers As­so­ci­a­tion of Malaysia (PPIM) of­fice be­side the school had also cap­tured what could be footage of a pos­si­ble in­tru­sion at the school about two hours be­fore the blaze.

“The footage showed that a per­son, who looked like he was in his teens, sneak­ing into the tah­fiz school at about 3am.”

Wangsa Maju po­lice chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Roy Suhaimi Sarif con­firmed that po­lice had ob­tained footage from more than 15 CCTV cam­eras owned by PPIM, and had them sent for anal­y­sis.

When asked about the in­for­ma­tion that a fight be­tween stu­dents was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated as a pos­si­ble mo­tive, Roy said po­lice were in­ves­ti­gat­ing all an­gles and would record state­ments from all stu­dents and teach­ers be­fore draw­ing any con­clu­sions.

“We can­not jump to con­clu­sions as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing. Po­lice will record state­ments from all nec­es­sary par­ties to shed more light into the case.

“We do not know yet if a fight be­tween stu­dents was the mo­tive.

“The fight could have taken place a long time ago and not re­lated to this in­ci­dent,” he said.

Kuala Lumpur Fire and Res­cue Depart­ment di­rec­tor Khirudin Drah­man had said on Thurs­day that short cir­cuit had been ruled out as a cause of the in­ci­dent.

“In­ves­ti­ga­tions showed the fire was not caused by a short cir­cuit.

Foren­sic find­ings and the En­ergy Com­mis­sion con­firmed that the elec­tric­ity cir­cuit and the school build­ing’s main switch were in good con­di­tion.

“We found that the fire had spread quickly, in a strange and un­usual way.

“Usu­ally, if the cause is a short cir­cuit, the main fuse box would ‘kick’ and it would take at least 30 min­utes for the fire to spread.

“Based on in­for­ma­tion from the vic­tims who were saved, the fire also started from out­side the door of the hos­tel, trap­ping them.

“In ad­di­tion, there were two gas cylin­ders there, which could have con­trib­uted to the fire and caus­ing it to spread fast,” he had said.

Khirudin had said the depart­ment be­lieved there were other “el­e­ments” from out­side the build­ing which caused the fire and a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion was be­ing car­ried out.

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