Malaysia: Fire Kills 21 Children At School

At least 21 students and 2 adults have been killed in a fire that broke out in a boarding school in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

The fire broke out on the top floor of the three-story religious school Tahfiz Darul Ittifaqiyah. The children, all aged between 13 and 17, were unable to escape because of the grills placed on the windows.

“Based on our initial investigations, the position the victims were found indicated that they tried to escape through the windows but were stopped due to the fixed grills on the windows,” Datuk Soiman Jahid, a deputy director general with the fire department, told reporters at the scene.

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

When emergency responders first arrived on the scene, "almost 90% of the building was already on fire," a Fire and Rescue department official told reporters.

Minister Tengku Adnan said the school 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.” 


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