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Blaze kills 24 at religious school in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian Fire and Rescue personnel stand outside the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah religious school in Kuala Lumpur on 14 September 2017.
Twenty-five people, mostly teenage boys, were killed on September 14 when a blaze tore through a Malaysian religious school, in what officials said was one of the country’s worst fire disasters for years. / AFP PHOTO / SADIQ ASYRAF

KUALA LUMPUR – Twenty-four people have died in a blaze that ripped through a religious school in Malaysia on 14 Sept 2017.

Officials described the tragedy as one of the country’s worst fire disasters in years.

The fire broke out in the early hours on Sept 14 in a two-story building at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah school, in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

Firefighters managed to put the blaze out within an hour but the damage to the building was extensive.

“It really does not make sense for so many to die in the fire. I think it is one of the country’s worst fire disasters in the past 20 years,” Khirudin Drahman, the head of Kuala Lumpur’s fire department, said.

He said 22 students and two adult wardens were killed in the blaze.

Reports said many of those who died were trapped in a dormitory which had metal grills over the windows

“We are now investigating the cause of the fire,” he said.

A fire department official at the scene said the blaze broke out in a dormitory and quickly spread even though firefighters from a nearby station reached the scene in minutes.

Tahfiz (religious) schools usually teach students between the ages of five and 18. Such facilities are not regulated by the Education Ministry and fall under the purview of the Religious Department.

Some 519 Tahfiz schools are registered across the country as of April, but many more are believed to be unregistered.

The Fire and Rescue Department had raised concerns about fire safety measures at unregistered and private Tahfiz, and had recorded 211 fires at such institutions since 2015. –

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