A fire at an Islamic boarding school for boys killed at least 24 people, most of them students, in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on Thursday morning, officials said.
Officials suspected an electrical short circuit caused the blaze that broke out in a top floor dormitory, where most of the students perished.
The fire at Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah, a “tahfiz” boarding school where students learn to memorize the Koran, was reported around 5.40 a.m. local time (2140 GMT Wednesday), according to a statement from the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department.
|The fire at Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah, a “tahfiz” boarding school where students learn to memorize the Koran, was reported around 5.40 a.m. local time (2140 GMT Wednesday), according to a statement from the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department.
The blaze began in the sleeping quarters on the top floor of the three-storey school building, the statement said.
Kuala Lumpur police chief Amar Singh told reporters that 22 students and 2 wardens were killed. All the students were boys aged 13-17, and they probably suffocated due to smoke inhalation.
“They’re still counting the bodies, which were piled on top of each other in a corner,” Singh said in the aftermath of one of the worst fires in Malaysia during the past two decades.
The dormitory had only one entrance, leaving many of the victims trapped inside, he said. Some witnesses said they had heard the students crying for help after the fire broke out.
“The building was surrounded by metal grills that could not be opened from the inside. The students, after realizing the fire and heavy smoke, tried to escape through the window,” said Fire and Rescue Department operations deputy director Soiman Jahid told reporters outside the school.
“But because of the grills, they could not escape,” he said.
Soiman said they were still investigating the cause of the fire but it was likely caused by short circuit or a lit mosquito repellant coil.