At least 20 Nursery school children died Tuesday after several straw-hut classrooms caught fire at a school in the Pays Bas neighbourhood in the Niamey.
“Twenty-one classrooms in straw huts caught fire. About 20 children were trapped in the blaze,” fire service commander Sidi Mohamed said on public television.
“Rescuers set off rapidly and the fire was put out… but the power of the fire was enormous,” he added. “The children were not able to escape.”
The fire had broken out at around 4.00 pm (1500 GMT), “when the victims were in class”.
Confirming the incident, head of Niger’s fire service, Colonel Bako Boubacar stated that the origin of the fire is yet to be established but investigations are on course.
Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou travelled to the scene of the disaster, on the edge of the capital, to offer condolences to the bereaved families.
Authorities in the country have built thousands of straw huts to serve as classrooms, with children sometimes seated on the floor.
Emergency agents have since arrived to clear the wreckage left from the fire. Fires have become fairly common in school huts due to the flammable materials used, but such accidents have rarely been fatal.
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