Dorm fire at religious school kills at least 24
MALAYSIA: A fire at an Islamic boarding school for boys has killed at least 24 people, most of them students, in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Officials said they suspected an electrical short circuit caused the blaze that broke out yesterday in a top-floor dormitory, where most of the students perished.
The fire at Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah, a ‘‘tahfiz’’ boarding school where students learn to memorise the Koran, was reported around 5.40am local time, according to a statement from the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department.
The officials initially gave a death toll of 25 people, but later revised it to 22 students and two wardens. Seven injured people were taken to a nearby hospital, while 11 others were rescued.
The blaze began in the sleeping quarters on the top floor of the three-storey school building, the officials said.
Kuala Lumpur police chief Amar Singh said the boys who died were aged 13 to 17, and were probably suffocated due to smoke inhalation.
The dormitory had only one entrance, leaving many of the victims trapped inside, he said. Some witnesses said they heard the students crying for help after the fire broke out.
‘‘They’re still counting the bodies, which were piled on top of each other in a corner,’’ Singh said.
Hundreds of people, including the families of some victims, gathered outside the school as bodies were being removed by fire officials. Singh said no foul play was suspected.
Tahfiz schools, which are unregulated by Malaysia’s education ministry, have been under scrutiny since earlier this year, when an 11-year-old boy died after reported abuse in Johor, north of Singapore. - Reuters
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