International News

Fire kills 11 at Uganda school for visually impaired children.

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Eleven children have died after a fire broke out in the early hours of Tuesday at a school for visually impaired children in Uganda, the BBC reports.

Four others are in a critical condition and are being treated in hospital.

The cause of the fire at the boarding school in Mukono, east of the capital, Kampala, is being investigated, but such incidents are not uncommon.

One of the country’s worst school blazes was at Buddo Junior School in 2008. Nineteen children died.

It is thought that there were at least 27 children sleeping inside the affected dormitory at the Salama School for the Blind.

Distraught parents have gathered at the site.

Dr Moses Keeya, who works at the local hospital that first received the injured, said they “sustained mostly injuries on the arms, legs and chest. One of them has a deep burn on the head”.Four children have been referred to Kiruddu National Hospital in Kampala. And two who had minor injuries have been discharged and sent home.

Education Minister Joyce Kaduchu has also been at the school talking to the parents.

“All of us are really heartbroken,” she said.”Our education system gives everyone an opportunity, regardless of what physical challenges one has. We have lost 11 children under very unfortunate circumstances.”

She added that DNA tests would have to be carried out on the bodies of the children which have been burnt beyond recognition.

In the past, school fires have been caused by children using candles in their dormitories after lights out and leaving them burning.

Rescue efforts have often been hampered by overcrowding and the lack of firefighting equipment at the schools.

A police report in March this year said that there had been at least 18 fire incidents in schools in a period of three months. – BBC

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