Home » Fire at a boarding school for the blind kills 11 girls in Uganda

Fire at a boarding school for the blind kills 11 girls in Uganda

by Mahmmod Shar

A fire at a boarding school for blind students killed 11 children in a rural community just outside Uganda’s capital, Kampala, the school’s administrator and police said Tuesday.

“One of our dormitories caught fire and burnt at around midnight. The matron made an alarm,” Francis Kinubi, the school’s founder, said. “This was one of the dormitories for the young girls and it caught and burned down and, very unfortunately, 11 girls, small girls, perished.”

Police said in a statement that six other people were hospitalized in critical condition. They said it was not yet known what caused the overnight fire that gutted a girls’ dormitory at Salama School for the Blind in the district of Mukono.

Fatuma Ndisaba, a top official in Mukono, told local broadcaster NTV that the victims, including girls between the ages of 7 and 10, were burned beyond recognition. The victims’ bodies will be identified through DNA analysis, she said.

“You cannot tell who is who,” she said, speaking of the charred bodies.

A small crowd that included distressed women gathered outside the school’s gates.

Internal Affairs Minister General Kahinda Otafiire told AFP the school has been cordoned off as a “crime scene” and vowed that there would be a full investigation.

“As government we shall go to the root cause of the fire and if there are any culprits they will be apprehended and the law will take its course,” he said.

The bereaved father of one of the deceased children, Richard Muhimba, told AFP: “No words can describe the pain I am going through.”

Princess Anne of the United Kingdom was supposed to visit the school on Friday. She is expected to travel to the nation of East Africa this week.

Education officials in Uganda have expressed concern about fires at schools due to the crowded nature of the classrooms and dorms as well as the lack of firefighting supplies in most cases. Poor electrical connections have occasionally been blamed by authorities for starting fires.

Administrator Kinubi of the Salama School for the Blind acknowledged a lack of safety gear.

We have repeatedly asked the government to give us some of these tools, but in vain, he said. “I have to admit that we do not have systems like fire extinguishers.”

In separate incidents in 2020, two dorms at a prestigious boarding school in Kampala were destroyed. Nobody was harmed.

A Kampala boarding school experienced a nighttime fire in 2008 that claimed the lives of 19 elementary school students.

AFP contributed to this report.


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