Tragedy: 26 pupils, two teachers killed in Liberia school fire
At least twenty-six children and two teachers have died after a huge fire broke out in a boarding school in a suburb outside the Liberian capital Monrovia on Wednesday
The boys were sleeping at the school when the overnight fire began, said police spokesman Moses Carter, adding that an electrical fault could have caused the blaze.
President George Weah visited the site in Paynesville, on the outskirts of the capital Monrovia, and said the cause was still unknown.
“We are here to encourage parents of the victims to have strength, because it is painful to lose your kids in this manner,” Weah told reporters at the scene.
The children, some as young as 10, were not able to escape the building because there was no fire exit and there were security steel bars on the windows, Presidential Press Secretary Isaac Solo Kelgbeh told CNN.
On Wednesday evening, the president of neighbouring Guinea, Alpha Conde, said several of his country’s nationals died in the blaze.
In a statement he expressed “great emotion” over the deaths and gave his “deepest condolences to the Liberian people and the Guinean community in Liberia” adding that he was following the investigation closely.
“We extend our sympathy to the bereaved families. We don’t know the cause of the fire yet, but we will encourage our investigators to find how it happened,” he added.
Rescuers in white masks and surgical gloves carried the children’s bodies in bags from the burnt-out building as crowds of people and relatives pressed together outside.
A local resident Zazay Ballah, who said they had helped in the rescue efforts told reporters, “I was sleeping when I heard noise outside. My wife opened the back door and we saw smoke coming from the front. We came out and saw fire at the back.
“We went for water, trying to put it out… When the fire fighters came, the fire was already going down.”
The victims were buried swiftly in a collective ceremony, in the Muslim tradition.