KUALA LUMPUR: A short-circuit is believed to be the cause of the early morning fire that killed 23 students and two wardens at Pusat Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah, a religious school at Jalan Keramat Ujung here early today, Bernama reports.
The fire was said to have broken out at 5.15am, with the Fire and Rescue Department receiving a distress call at 5.41 am.
Twenty-four bodies were found on the top floor, burnt and lying on top of each other.
Kuala Lumpur Fire and Rescue Deputy Director Assistant Fire Commissioner Abu Obaidat Mohamad was reported as saying the fire was believed to have been caused by a short-circuit in front of the door to the students’ hostel on the third floor of the building.
He said this was based on the locations where the bodies of the victims were found, which were on the left and right side of the third floor of the building.
“They were believed to have tried to escape from the fire (which started) in the centre of the room through the windows, but the windows had grilles, leaving only the door, which was also the only exit on the third floor,” he told reporters at the scene.
Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Amar Singh Ishar Singh was earlier reported as saying the bodies were found at two locations on the third floor of the building which was occupied by 36 students.
He said the religious centre only had one exit, trapping most of the occupants as the fire was believed to have started at the exit.
The windows also did not have safety features that allowed for use during emergency.
Amar Singh said 14 students and four teachers managed to get out of the building on time or were rescued, with six of them reported in critical condition. All of them were sent to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital.
The students at the religious centre were all boys, aged between 13 and 17.
The bodies would be sent to the National Institute of Forensic Medicine for identification by family members and post mortem.
He said police would investigate claims that the centre was operating without a permit.
Thirty-six students and six teachers were reported to be staying at the centre.