Massive blaze 'kills 24 students' in their boarding school beds



AT LEAST 24 students are believed to be dead after a huge fire broke out in a boarding school.

The huge blaze broke out at around 5am (10pm UK time) at an all-boys religious school in Jalan Datuk Keramat, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Firefighters raced to the scene where they desperately tried to battle the flames that engulfed the three-storey building.

Officials have said the fire started in a top-floor dormitory and is believed to have been caused by an electric short circuit.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Amar Singh said 22 students and 2 wardens were killed. All the students were boys aged 13-17, and they probably suffocated due to smoke inhalation.

He said: "They're still counting the bodies, which were piled on top of each other in a corner."

Soiman Jahid, the Fire and Rescue Department operations deputy director, added: "The building was surrounded by metal grills that could not be opened from the inside.

"The students, after realising the fire and heavy smoke, tried to escape through the window but because of the grills, they could not escape."

The dormitory also had only one entrance, leaving many of the victims trapped inside.

Tragically, witnesses have said they heard the students crying for help after the fire broke out.

As emergency services removed the victims and inspected the site, distraught parents were seen crying as they spoke with officials on the street where hundreds of people had gathered.

Pictures taken inside the building show it was completely gutted, with charred bunkbeds where the boys slept.

Several of the 18 survivors were taken to hospital to be treated for injuries, officials said. Trucks carrying bodies of the victims were seen arriving at the morgue.

Local media reported the fire service had registered concerns this summer that unregistered and private tahfiz (religious) schools were flouting fire safety regulations.

There have been a recorded 211 fires involving these types of schools since 2015.

In August, 16 people – including eight pupils – fled an early-morning blaze at the family-run Tahfiz Al-Taqwa school in Baling, Kedah.

And the city residents still remember a huge fire in 1989 at the SAR Taufikiah Al-Halimiah in Kampung Padang Lumat, Kedah, which left 27 female students dead.

The flames quickly spread from the school to eight wooden shacks housing the girls nearby.