23 dead in fire at KL tahfiz school without CCC

Firefighters inspect the interior of the Tahfiz Darul Ittifaqyah in Jalan Datuk Keramat, which caught fire this morning, Sept 14, 2017. — Sunpix by Ashraf Shamsul

KUALA LUMPUR: Twenty-one pupils and two wardens were killed in a fire at a religious school which had not been certified for occupation by the authorities.

City police chief Commissioner Datuk Amar Singh said the Fire and Rescue Department put out the fire at the Tahfiz Darul Ittifaqyah in Jalan Keramat Ujung, about an hour after they arrived at 5.40am.

"A total of 35 students and six teachers stayed in this religious school.

"The police together with rescue personnel saved 14 students, while four wardens managed to flee the scene," he said, adding that initial investigations revealed there was no foul play.

"There is only one exit and entrance in the premises. So the students were trapped and the bodies were clumped up in one area."

He said the pupils who died were aged 11 to 17 while the wardens were in their 30s.

He said investigators believe the victims were overcome by smoke inhalation.

"The bodies were totally burnt."

The remains of the victims were sent to Hospital Kuala Lumpur for post-mortem.

Amar added six of the victims at the school were also critically injured after jumping out of the window on the top-most floor.

He said the absence of hinged grilles on the second floor was one of the reasons the victims were trapped in the room.

Among the victims were the children of a policeman, F. Zaska Yusoh, who is attached to the Cheras district police Criminal Investigation Department.

They were identified as Azkar Abiedi F. Zaska, 11, and Azkar Darimi F. Zaska, eight.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim said police suspected a short circuit to be the cause of the fire at the school.

However, Kuala Lumpur Fire and Rescue Department director Khirudin Drahman later said investigations indicated the fire was not caused by a short circuit.

The government will undertake the funeral cost of the deceased, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi after visiting the school today.

A neighbour said the school had been operating for one and a half years.

The school's head Mohd Zahid Mahmod said the block where the fire broke out was a temporary building while the original block was being renovated.

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar said the school did not have a Certificate of Completion and Compliance which meant the authorities had not certified it fit to be occupied.