Malaysia: Fire kills 25 at religious school in Kuala Lumpur

Residents heard cries for help at religious school engulfed by fire

Malaysian authorities said Friday they had not ruled out foul play in a fire that killed 23 children and teachers in an Islamic school, as calls mounted for better safety regulations at religious study centres. It's sad to read Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Center burned & killed more than 20 lives.

"The sad part is, during this incident, there was only one entrance to exit through, so the students were trapped inside", Singh said.

A total of 36 students, aged between 13 and 17, and six teachers were living at the tahfiz (Quranic memorisation) school. As indicated by the police it started in the resting quarters.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is now visiting Britain, also weighed in on the matter, saying on Friday that the management of tahfiz religious schools in Malaysia should give importance to the safety at the institutions by adhering strictly to all safety regulations imposed by the local authorities and Fire and Rescue Department to prevent a recurrence of such a tragedy. Photographs and videos being shared online show the entire upper floor of the school, where the students would have been sleeping, up in flames.

The fire and rescue department initially said they believed the blaze - the worst in Malaysia for two decades - was caused by an electrical short circuit or a mosquito-repelling device.

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

He said the school has been operating for 15 years and registered with the state Islamic religious council.

Earlier this year an 11-year-old schoolboy died in hospital after reportedly being beaten by a warden at a religious school. After that, I heard three explosions from inside and suddenly the voices were gone.

"I saw their little hands out of the grilled windows, crying for help", area resident Nurhayati Abdul Halim told local media as reported by The New York Times.

He said the living arrangements at the top floor were very cramped with double-decker beds placed too close to one another. "All of the bodies were found grouped together on each other", he added.

The official further added that the fire broke out in bedrooms and they rushed to the spot.

Prime Minister Najib Razak tweeted his sympathies to those affected while a government minister said the incident should be quickly investigated "so that we will be able to prevent future disasters".

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