Liberia school fire: At least 27 children killed in blaze near Monrovia, police say

Only the imam, a teacher and two students escape blaze

Andy Gregory
Wednesday 18 September 2019 13:55
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People wait for prayers to begin at a Liberian mosque after a fire swept through a school, reportedly killing dozens of children
People wait for prayers to begin at a Liberian mosque after a fire swept through a school, reportedly killing dozens of children

A fire in a school in Liberia has killed at least 27 children, according to a police spokesperson.

The blaze took hold on Tuesday night at a school in an eastern suburb of the capital, Monrovia, eviscerating a dormitory and school building where students slept at night.

“The kids were learning the Quran when the fire broke out,” police spokesman Moses Carter said.

Mr Carter initially said that 30 children were killed before revising the death toll down to 27. Only the imam, a teacher and two students managed to escape, he said.

Hundreds of mourners gathered as Red Cross ambulances removed bodies from the building, with plans to bury them on Wednesday afternoon.

President George Weah reportedly visited the area on Wednesday and his spokesperson told AFP that two teachers had also been killed.

“Deepest condolences go out to the bereaved families and the entire Islamic community,” Mr Weah wrote on Twitter. “May God strengthen them and give them the courage to persevere.”

Mr Carter said the blaze was caused by an electrical issue and that further investigations were ongoing. It is not uncommon for buildings to collapse in blazes linked to faulty electrics in Liberia’s big cities, however these events are rarely so deadly.

Pastor Emmanuel Herbert of a nearby church said that he and his congregation woke up to sounds of the fire and called for help.

“When I turned around to look, the entire place was red. When I looked through the window, I saw the whole place blazing with fire,” the pastor said.

The fire was so fierce there was no way to enter the buildings, he said.

Additional reporting by agencies

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