Kuala Lumpur school fire kills 23 students and teachers

At 5:15 am (local time), September 14, a religious boarding school in Kuala Lumpur Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah caught fire on the second floor of dormitory suddenly.

A fire killed 25 people, mostly teenagers, trapped behind barred windows and a blocked exit in an Islamic school dormitory on the outskirts of Malaysia’s capital early Thursday, officials said.

Firefighters rushed to the scene after receiving a distress call at 5.41 a.m. and took an hour to put out the blaze, which started on the top floor of the three-story building, there were at least 24 charred bodies, 22 of them boys between 13 and 17, and two teachers. Kuala Lumpur police chief Amar Singh said.

Totally burned. Unfortunately there was only one entrance, so they could not escape. All the bodies were found lumped on one another.”

“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 AFP.

Officials said fire engines were at the site within minutes, and the blaze was put out within an hour.

Officials initially said 23 students and two teachers were killed in the blaze. Police later revised the death toll to 21 students and two teachers.

Most of the victims were boys aged between 13 and 17 and that six others are in hospital in a critical condition.”

Ten people were taken to hospital, and four are thought to have serious injuries.

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 AFP.

I saw children kicking on the grill but they couldn’t get out. My friends and I rushed over and tried to reach them but we couldn’t get in, eyewitness Shahirman Shahril told CNN.

The firemen could hear cries for help from inside the building, spokesman Soiman Jahid said, the first team from (the) fire station managed to save five of the children from the lower level.

Minister Tengku Adnan said the religious school, called Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah, had been operating without a licence, while local media reported that officials had recently raised fire safety concerns about such private schools.

“The religious school did not have an operating licence from the local authorities,” he said. “The school also does not have any licence from the local religious authorities.”

“There are many other religious schools (that operate illegally) in the country.”

The fire and rescue department had raised concerns about fire safety measures at unregistered and private tahfiz, and had recorded 211 fires at the institutions since 2015, according to the Star.

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