At least 25 people, mostly students, were killed in a fire at a school in the Malaysian capital early Thursday morning. Police and rescue personnel work at an Islamic religious school cordoned off after a fire on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017.
Firefighters and witnesses described scenes of horror - first of boys screaming for help behind barred windows as neighbors watched helplessly, and later of burned bodies huddled in corners of the room.
Local media report the school could have been operating against government regulations, because its fire safety permit application was allegedly still pending.
Seven injured students were also taken to hospital and 11 were rescued, Al Jazeera reported.
Officials said fire engines were at the site within minutes, and the blaze was put out within an hour. "I think this is one of the worst tragedy in the country over the past 20 years".
The tahfiz school where it is now confirmed that 24 people died in a fire today does not have its Certificate of Completion and Compliance (CCC).
"They died from suffocation and subsequently the bodies were totally burnt", Singh said.
Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz school (DQIT) deputy principal Roslan Awang Ali also said the building was only being used as a temporary facility. The fire, which was sparked by an electric short circuit, spread to the third floor of the teenage boys' dormitory blocking their exit.
Officials said they were unable to leave through the only door to the dormitory, as it was on fire.
The latest tragedy was "the outcome of the absence of enforcement, and the failure to abide by rules and regulations by the operators of the religious school", said Chandra Muzaffar, a political scientist who promotes Islamic reform.
The Malaysian prime minister Mohd Najib Tun Razak tweeted "Innalillah".
More than 200 fires had broken out at schools since 215, the department revealed.