Malaysia school fire kills 24 students, teachers
KUALA LUMPUR: At least 24 students and teachers have died in a fire at a religious school in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur.
The fire at the Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah broke out in the early hours of Thursday morning.
The victims are thought to been trapped in their dormitory as the windows were barred with metal grills.
"It is one of the country's worst fire disasters in the past 20 years," Khirudin Drahman, director of the fire and rescue department, told media.
Initial counts put the death toll at 25, but police later revised that down by one.
They said the dead were 22 students - all boys between the age of 13 and 17 - and two staff members.
In Islamic tahfiz schools - where children study the Koran - students often live at the school.
Images and videos circulating online showed the entire upper room of the school ablaze.
"The building was surrounded by metal grills that could not be opened from the inside. The students, after realising the fire and heavy smoke, tried to escape through the window," Fire and Rescue Department operations deputy director Soiman Jahid told reporters outside the school.
Officials said fire engines were at the site within minutes, and the blaze was put out within an hour.
A number of students were also taken to hospital, some suffering from smoke inhalation.
Prime Minister Najib Razak tweeted his sympathies to those affected while a government minister said the incident should be quickly investigated "so that we will be able to prevent future disasters".
"We sympathise with the families. It is one of the worst fires involving so many lives in the capital in recent years, said Loga Bala Mohan, according to media reports.
KUALA LUMPUR: People cry outside an Islamic religious school following a fire on the outskirts.