At least 20 children dead in Niger nursery school fire
CAPE TOWN – At least twenty children have died after a fire gutted a school in Niger’s capital of Niamey on Tuesday afternoon.
According to a report by news broadcaster BBC, the children were attending lessons in straw-hut classrooms when the fire broke out.
Halidou Mounkaila, the secretary-general of the National Trade Union of Contractual Agents and Civil Servants in Basic Education said: "Twenty-five out of 38 classrooms in the school were devastated by the fire," as reported by Anadolu Agency.
Straw-hut classrooms are often built as overflow areas for lessons in schools when there are not enough brick ones, according to a BBC reporter.
According to AFP news agency, fire service commander Sidi Mohamed told public television that firefighters attended the scene quickly, but "the power of the fire was enormous."
Voice of America reported that the fire apparently started around the school gate.
Without an emergency exit, many were trapped and students were forced to scale the wall to escape, said the report.
Furthermore, the BBC reported that parents were waiting at the Pays Bas Primary School on Wednesday morning to find out about arrangements for burying their children.
Muslim burials usually take place within 24 hours of a death.
According to reports, a teachers' union official Mounkaila Halidou said there were about 800 students attending the school and those who died were mostly in the pre-school, he said.
Authorities say that it is not yet clear what caused the fire.