Blaze con­sumes 24 in Malaysia

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - World News -

KUALA LUMPUR. — Twenty-four peo­ple, mostly chil­dren, were killed yes­ter­day when a blaze tore through a Malaysian re­li­gious school, trapped in their dor­mi­tory by metal grilles on the win­dows.

Pupils and teachers in­side the Is­lamic study cen­tre in down­town Kuala Lumpur screamed for help as help­less neigh­bours looked on.

Many of the bod­ies of the vic­tims — who in­cluded 22 boys aged be­tween 13 and 17 — were found piled on top of one an­other, in­di­cat­ing there may have been a stam­pede as the stu­dents sought to es­cape the blaze which erupted be­fore dawn.

Fire­fight­ers rushed to the scene and the fire was out within an hour but it wreaked ter­ri­ble dev­as­ta­tion. Pic­tures in lo­cal me­dia showed ash-cov­ered, fire-black­ened beds in the stu­dents’ sleep­ing quar­ters.“The build­ing was on fire as the (morn­ing call to prayer) was sound­ing,” Norhayati Ab­dul Halim, 46, who lives op­po­site the school, told AFP.

“I could hear scream­ing, I thought there were peo­ple fight­ing. I opened the win­dow to my house and I could see the school on fire - they cried for help but I couldn’t do any­thing.”

By the time fire­fight­ers ar­rived at the Darul Qu­ran It­ti­faqiyah re­li­gious school in the heart of the cap­i­tal, “the screams had stopped”, she added.

Fed­eral Ter­ri­to­ries Min­is­ter Tengku Ad­nan Tengku Man­sor said the chil­dren, who were board­ers at the school, were “des­per­ately try­ing to es­cape the flames” but metal se­cu­rity grilles cov­er­ing the win­dows of their dor­mi­tory pre­vented them. — AFP.

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