Dorm fire at re­li­gious school kills at least 23

Waikato Times - - WORLD -

MALAYSIA: A fire at an Is­lamic board­ing school for boys has killed at least 23 peo­ple, most of them stu­dents, in Malaysia’s cap­i­tal, Kuala Lumpur.

Of­fi­cials said they sus­pected an elec­tri­cal short cir­cuit or mos­quito re­pel­lent coil caused the blaze that broke out yes­ter­day in a top-floor dor­mi­tory, where most of the stu­dents per­ished.

The dis­as­ter has re­newed calls for greater scru­tiny of so-called ‘‘tah­fiz’’ schools, where stu­dents learn to mem­o­rise the Qu­ran. They are un­reg­u­lated by the ed­u­ca­tion min­istry, be­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the re­li­gious de­part­ment.

At least 30 fires at such schools had been re­ported this year, Ur­ban Well­be­ing, Hous­ing and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Noh Omar said, adding that the Kuala Lumpur school should not have been in oper­a­tion.

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.

Fire de­part­ment op­er­a­tions deputy di­rec­tor Soiman Jahid said the dor­mi­tory had only one en­trance, leav­ing many of the vic­tims trapped.

‘‘The build­ing was sur­rounded by metal grilles that could not be opened from the in­side,’’ Soiman said out­side the school.

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. - Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.