Malaysia: School fire kills students and teachers

BBC:-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 grilles.

“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.

Initial counts put the death toll at 25, but police later revised that down by one.

Police said the dead were 22 students – all boys between the age of 13 and 17 – and two staff members.

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

The blaze was reported at around 05:40 local time on Thursday morning (21:40 GMT Wednesday). According to the police it began in the sleeping quarters.

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.

“Based on our initial investigations, the position the victims were found in indicated that they tried to escape through the windows but were stopped due to the fixed grilles on the windows,” fire and rescue department operations deputy director Soiman Jahid said.

He said police were still investigating what caused the fire but that it likely was caused by short circuit or a lit mosquito repellent coil.

Local media report the school could have been operating against government regulations, because its fire safety permit application was allegedly still pending.

Malaysia’s urban wellbeing and housing minister said there had been 29 fire incidents at tahfiz schools in the country since 2015.

Malaysian authorities have raised concerns about safety measures at unregulated private religious schools.

Earlier this year an 11-year-old schoolboy died in hospital after reportedly being beaten by a warden at a religious school.

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