Tahfiz students slid down drain pipe to escape pre-dawn fire

Posted September 15, 2017

At least 25 people, including students and two teachers were died after a Muslims religious school caught a massive fire in Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, worldwide media reported.

According to Kuala Lumpur police chief Amar Singh, a total of 36 students aged 13 to 17 and six teachers were in the building when the fire broke out.

"The youngsters were sobbing for help, yet I couldn't help them as the entryway was at that point ablaze", he said.

The fire at the Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah broke out in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The victims were trapped behind barred windows and a blocked exit on the top floor of the three-story building on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital.

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

Pictures of the charred frames of bunk beds in a blackened dormitory emerged after firefighters brought the fire under control at the two-storey building.

Officials called it one of the country's worst fire disasters for years. It seems that the bodies were piled as the students have tried to save their lives near the entrance.

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Mr Khirudin said the department is investigating the possibility that the fire was caused by mischief, adding that a student who survived the fire said it started outside the dormitory before gutting the second floor.

A fire accident took place at Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah, a "tahfiz" boarding school.

The accident will increase scrutiny of the religious schools known as tahfiz, where many Muslim Malays send their children to study the Koran but which are not regulated by education authorities and often operate illegally.

At a press conference, deputy inspector-general of police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim said an electrical fault was believed to have caused the fire.

An official said the students were teenage boys. "All of the bodies were found grouped together on each other", he added.

However, an official with the state religious council said it had no record of the school. "It really does not make sense for so many to die".

Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he hopes schools will review their safety measures.