Casualties in a Fire at a Religious School in Kuala Lumpur

Violet Powell
September 16, 2017

Two teachers were also killed in the fire at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah, a 15-minute drive from the iconic Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, police said, adding that most of the victims died from smoke inhalation.

The fire tore through Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah, a religious school located in a Malay settlement of Datuk Keramat, at around 5:40 am local time on Thursday, a statement from the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department read. Kuala Lumpur police chief Amar Singh said 14 other students and four teachers were rescued, with six of them hospitalised in critical condition. The firefighters quickly attended the scene and the fire was extinguished after an hour. Police later updated the death toll to 22 students and two teachers.

Initial investigations showed the small, all-boys school was operating without a fire-safety permit, though it had applied for one, fire authorities said.

"I saw their little hands out of the grilled windows; crying for help". The man, Hazin, said his family called the fire department after hearing screams. "We want to know".

"This is what he said, we don't just listen to verbal speeches, we need the black and white report".

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"After we did a thorough inspection and used our K-9 (dog unit), we found that the fire started outside the dormitory on the second floor". "Unfortunately, there was only one entrance, so they couldn't escape".

Mr Nik Azlan Nik Abdul Kadir, who lost a 12-year-old in the fire, hugged his sobbing wife outside the school, and said he had seen his son only the previous evening.

Muslim-majority Malaysia offers a secular education system, but growing conservatism has led to a boom in the number of Islamic religious schools, most privately-run and not overseen by education authorities. This incident is being termed as one of the country's worst fire disasters for years.

"If the fire was caused by mischief, then it would be considered a crime which falls under the police's jurisdiction".

Safety should be the utmost priority, he noted, adding that he hopes all schools will review their safety standards in the event of a fire after this incident.

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