20 children have died after having become trapped in a fire at a school in Niger. The fire began late on Tuesday afternoon in the capital, Niamey when the children were in lessons. The BBC reports that many had been in straw-hut classrooms. The government-run junior and pre-school had a mixture of brick and straw-hut classrooms.
As the school gates were blocked by flames, most pupils escaped by jumping over a wall. Those that could not manage to scale the wall, and thus became trapped, were attending the school’s nursery. One parent who lost his six-year-old son said, “We have lost 20 children in a fraction of a second – we must call on the state to say that hut classes should no longer exist anywhere in the country.”
According to the commander of the Fire service, Sidi Mohamed, firefighters attended the scene quickly, but “the power of the fire was enormous”. 28 straw classrooms were completely destroyed. Some of the school’s 30 permanent classrooms were also damaged. The cause of the fire is as yet unknown.
The BBC reports that parents were waiting at school on Wednesday morning to find out about arrangements for burying their children, as Muslim burials usually take place within 24 hours of a death.
Umm Muhammed Umar