KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 ― A city Islamic religious boarding school whose 24 students and wardens died in a predawn fire today had opened before acquiring the necessary fire permit.
Fire and Rescue Department deputy director-general of operations Datuk Soiman Jahid said the incident could have been avoided if the Tahfiz Darul Ittifaqiyah school had followed local government regulations in applying for the proper permits, The Star reported on its website.
“Based on our investigations the school had not acquired a permit to begin its operations and it was applying for one,” he was quoted telling reporters at the scene.
Soiman also said the department would have advised the school to meet all fire safety requirements before starting operations, including installing hinged grilles.
“Based on our initial investigations, the position the victims were found indicated that they tried to escape through the windows but were stopped due to the fixed grilles on the windows.”
The charred remains of 22 students and two wardens were found piled up in two corners near the windows of a room on the top floor.
Soiman suspected the fire could have been caused either by a burning mosquito coil or a short-circuit.
“We will know more in two to three days. Our men are going through the area to see if we missed any victims,” he was quoted saying.
Eighteen students survived the fire and are currently at a nearby hospital for treatment.