Wed 14 April 2021:
Some 20 children died from a nursery school on Tuesday in a fire that ravaged the establishment, located in the Nigerien capital Niamey, according to local media on Wednesday.
“Twenty-one classrooms in straw huts caught fire. Around 20 children were trapped in the blaze,” fire service commander Sidi Mohamed said on public television.
“Rescuers set off rapidly and the fire was put out… but the power of the fire was enormous,” he added. “The children were not able to escape.”
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Public television, citing witnesses, said the fire had broken out at around 4.00 pm (1500 GMT), “when the victims were in class”.
The cause of the fire was not yet known.
Halidou Mounkaila, the secretary-general of the National Trade Union of Contractual Agents and Civil Servants in Basic Education said: “25 out of 38 classrooms in the school were devastated by the fire,” adding that “the provisional death toll is 20.”
The school where the fire started is located on the southeastern outskirts of Niamey, not far from the airport.
Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou travelled to the scene of the tragedy, on the edge of the capital, to offer his condolences to the children’s parents.
Niger ranks as the poorest country in the world under the UN’s 189-nation Human Development Index.
Authorities in the Sahel country have built thousands of straw huts to serve as classrooms, with children sometimes seated on the floor.
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