Fire Kills At Least 23 At Malaysian School Dormitory With Barred Windows

Residents heard cries for help at religious school engulfed by fire

A blaze at an Islamic boarding school in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday (Sept 14) that killed at least 23 people, a lot of them teenage boys, could have been caused by mischief, said the authorities. Kuala Lumpur police chief Amar Singh said 14 other students and four teachers were rescued, with six of them hospitalised in critical condition.

In the hours after the fire, family members rushed to the scene, only for some to be told that their child had died in the blaze.

Rescuers found the bodies of 21 schoolboys and two teachers in piles, indicating there may have been a stampede as the students sought to escape the inferno.

The remains of the 23 victims who perished in a fire at a tahfiz school here have been successfully identified via DNA testing.

"I saw their little hands out of the grilled windows; crying for help", she said. "The understudies, subsequent to understanding the fire and substantial smoke, endeavored to escape through the window", Fire and Rescue Department operations delegate executive Soiman Jahid told correspondents outside the school. "We want to know". A Minister said the incident should be quickly investigated, the BBC report said.

JBPM director-general Datuk Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim said they were now investigating from the point of negligence and technicality and the investigation was expected to take two to three weeks.

It was the latest controversy involving one of the country's Islamic schools, which are overseen by religious authorities rather than the education ministry, and has prompted calls for better regulation. He said police are still confirming the final numbers and cause of the fire. "They're still counting the bodies, which were piled on top of each other in a corner", Singh said.

The latest tragedy was "the outcome of the absence of enforcement, and the failure to abide by rules and regulations by the operators of the religious school", said Chandra Muzaffar, a political scientist who promotes Islamic reform. The school also do not have any licence from the local religious authorities.

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