People in Niger are mourning 20 pre-school children – aged between three and five – trapped in the flames of a horrific fire at a school on the outskirts of the country’s capital, Niamey.
The young victims perished on Tuesday when the blaze tore through buildings made of wood and straw in the impoverished poor “Pays-Bas” neighbourhood that was built in a former clay quarry near Niamey airport.
On Wednesday, anguished parents and teachers gathered at the school. Wiping away tears with her veil, the school’s director Habiba Gaya said all of Niger was in “total mourning”.
“The little children, innocents, were really burned alive in this fire,” she told AFP news agency, explaining that while older children were able to make it out, those aged five and under were not.
“They were little so they weren’t able to run.”
The cause of the fire was under investigation and it was not immediately known where it started. However, teachers and parents said on Wednesday the deaths highlight the dangers of temporary classrooms set up outside.
In Niger, which ranks as the poorest country in the world under the United Nations’ 189-nation Human Development Index, straw huts are often used to make room for students in overcrowded schools.
Source: Al Jazeera
Picture credit: Al Jazeera