Flames swept a boarding school early Wednesday in the West African country of Liberia, killing at least 27 children and trapping others in the rubble.
The students were sleeping in a dormitory attached to a mosque when an electrical issue is thought to have sparked the fire, according to a police spokesman.
The blaze remains under investigation.
Officers were still searching for the missing by midday in Paynesville City, a suburb of the Liberian capital, Monrovia, as Red Cross ambulances rushed to treat the injured.
The victims are believed to be between 10 and 20 years old.
My prayers go out to the families of the children that died last night in Paynesville City; as a result of a deadly fire that engulfed their school building,” Liberian President George Weah said in a Wednesday tweet. “This is a tough time for the families of the victims and all of Liberia. Deepest condolences go out to the bereaved.”
A pastor in Paynesville City told the BBC that he woke up to the sounds of the fire and ran to look for help.
“When I turned around to look, the entire place was red,” Emmanuel Herbert said.
Rescuers struggled to enter the building, he told the outlet, because the single entrance was blocked.
Fire kills an estimated 250,000 people each year worldwide, with the majority of victims in low and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization.
Experts say low-quality housing, aging infrastructure and a lack of funding for safety inspection heighten the risk.
|The Washington Post