Malaysian dormitory blaze kills 23
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAY
SIA » A fire that blocked the only exit to an Islamic school dormitory killed 23 people, mostly teenagers, on the outskirts of Malaysia’s largest city early Thursday, officials said. A government official said a wall separating the victims from a second exit “shouldn’t have been there.”
Firefighters and witnesses described scenes of horror — first of boys screaming for help behind barred windows as neighbors watched helplessly, and later of burned bodies huddled in corners of the room. Islamic teacher Arif Mawardy said he woke up to what he thought was a thunderstorm, only to realize it was the sound of people screaming.
The blaze started about 5:40 a.m. on the top floor of the three-story building, Kuala Lumpur police chief Amar Singh said. He said 23 charred bodies were recovered — 21 boys between the ages of 13 and 17 and two teachers.
Health Minister S. Subramaniam said six other students and a resident who went to help were hospitalized, with four of them in critical condition.