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Several killed in Uganda school fire

Latest update : 2008-04-15

At least 18 children and an adult were killed by an overnight fire in a primary school dormitory outside the Ugandan capital of Kampala. Similar fires across the country left some twenty children dead in 2006.

Eighteen children and an adult burned to death when an overnight fire engulfed their dormitory near the Ugandan capital, police said Tuesday.

"At 2200 hours (1900 GMT), we were alerted that a dormitory caught fire in Budo Junior School. The death toll is now 19. It was a female dormitory with girls aged nine to 12," police spokesman Judith Nabakoba told AFP.

"We are still pulling bodies out of the burnt dormitory," located 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Kampala, she added.

It was not clear how many children were sleeping at the dorm at the time of the fire, but survivors said the death toll could be much higher. Some reported seeing 25 bodies.

Some bodies were burnt beyond recognition in the dormitory, which was scattered with burnt-out remains of triple-deck beds and children's personal effects, an AFP journalist reported.

Several rooms were burned to ashes and the bedframes reduced to a molten mass in one of the most horrific accidents of its kind in the east African nation.

Traumatised teachers escorted students from the school while emotional parents scoured through the remains in search of their missing children.

A school official said the dormitory had been locked from the outside when the fire started when most of the children had retired to bed. The school also had a power blackout at the time of the accident.

In March 2006, at least 13 children were killed and several injured when fire razed an Islamic school in western Uganda and in July the same year, six children died in a similar fire in the eastern region.

A charcoal stove and a candle were suspected to have started those fires.

Date created : 2008-04-15