Local officials stated that at least 26 children in school aged 5-6 were killed when a classroom with a thatched roof caught fire. More than 12 others were also injured in the blaze, many of them critically.
The deadly fire broke out on Monday morning in a makeshift classroom constructed from wood and straw in Niger’s southern Maradi region, Reuters, the BBC and AFP reported independently, with the mayor of Maradi city confirming the casualties.
“Right now, we have 26 dead and 13 injured, four of them seriously,”Chaibou Aboubacar (the mayor) told the local media that all three schools were damaged.
Photos circulated online that purport to show the aftermath, but are not confirmed. Local residents could view the burned remains of the classrooms while they mingled around.
#Niger : plusieurs élèves calcinés dans un incendie de classes en paillote à #Maradi Au moins une vingtaine de jeunes écoliers ont trouvé la mort, ce lundi 08 novembre 2021, dans une école à Maradi, à la suite d’un incendie ayant ravagé des classes en paillote. Nos condoléances pic.twitter.com/Ruaeqkhd25
— Ahmadou Atafa (@AhmadouAtafa) November 8, 2021
One of the world’s poorest nations, Niger’s brick schoolhouses are often unable to accommodate all local children, creating the need for improvised overflow rooms. Maman Hdi the regional director of education stated that while the exact cause is under investigation, it’s not uncommon for these provisional classrooms to catch fire due to the fact they are made from highly flammable materials. Twenty children were killed in a similar incident earlier this year, which also destroyed 28 straw-hut classrooms.
Local officials announced a three-day mourning period and suspended classes following the latest fire, while Niger’s council of ministers declared that preschool classrooms must no longer have roofs made of straw, citing the two deadly blazes since April.
Monday’s fire is the second disaster to strike the Maradi region in as many days. An incident occurred Sunday. “artisanal”Local officials reported that a gold mine close to the Nigerian border collapsed and killed at least 18 people. These mines are often dug using outdated tools and techniques, which can lead to fatal accidents.
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