The Latest: Official: Malaysia fire victims were to move out


The Latest on a deadly fire at a Islamic school in Malaysia (all times local):

3:55 p.m.

The principal of a private Malaysian Islamic school says a dormitory razed by fire was being used as a temporary boarding house because the main school building was under renovation.

Mohamad Zahid Mahmod told the Berita Harian online newspaper on Thursday that the renovation work took a year and the students were due to move back into the main building at the end of this month.

He said the students would have been preparing for their dawn prayers at the time of the fire. Officials say 23 people were killed.

Mohamad Zahid said the school has been operating for 15 years and is registered with the state Islamic religious council. He said it housed 42 students, six teachers and two wardens.

An official with the state religious council, however, said it has no record of the school.

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3.10 p.m.

Malaysian police are now saying 23 students and teachers have died in a fire at an Islamic school dormitory, not 24 as they had stated earlier.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Amar Singh says those killed in the Thursday morning fire include 21 students and two teachers. He had earlier said there were 22 students.

The victims were trapped behind barred windows and a blocked exit on the top floor of the three-story building on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital.

Health Minister S. Subramaniam says the 23 bodies have been taken to the forensics department to be identified by family members. He says six students and a resident who went to help were hospitalized, with four of them in critical condition.

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1:30 p.m.

A Malaysian official says a wall that blocked students and teachers from an exit that might have saved them from a deadly fire "shouldn't have been there."

The fire early Thursday killed 24 people in an Islamic school dormitory on the outskirts of Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur. Officials say the blaze blocked the only exit, leaving victims trapped behind barred windows.

Noh Omar, minister for urban well-being, housing and local government, says the school's original architectural plan including an open top floor that allowed access to two exit staircases. But he says a wall was built dividing that floor, leaving only one exit for the dorm.

Omar says "the wall shouldn't have been there."

He says the school submitted an application for a fire safety permit that hadn't been approved.

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11 a.m.

A fire department official says the initial investigation into a fatal dormitory fire in Malaysia showed the school had just applied for building safety approval.

The official, Soiman Jahid, couldn't give further details on the application filed to the city council.

The fire early Thursday killed 24 people, mostly teenagers, who were trapped behind barred windows and a blocked exit on the top floor of the three-story building.

The Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is a private Islamic center, known as a "tahfiz" school, for Muslim children, mainly boys, to study and memorize the Quran. Many such schools are exempt from state inspections.


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