Fire kill 11 at Uganda school for visually impaired children

Parents are mourning the loss of their children who died in a fire at a Uganda school for the visually impaired.

Eleven were killed after a dormitory blaze started in the early hours of Tuesday.

“I cannot describe the pain in my heart right now,” said Jennifer Nassozi, whose six-year-old daughter was killed.

The cause of the fire at the school in Mukono, east of the capital, Kampala, is being investigated, but such incidents are not uncommon.

One of the country‘s worst school blazes was at Buddo Junior School in 2008. Nineteen children died.

It is thought that there were at least 27 children sleeping inside the affected dormitory at the Salama School for the Blind.Distraught families have gathered at the site.

“Nassali was doing very well in school. She was such a jolly girl,” MsNassozi told the BBC remembering her daughter.

“Every time we would come to school at the start of the term, her friends would come running to meet us saying: ‘Nassali has come!'”.

Dr Moses Keeya, who works at the local hospital that first received the injured, said they sustained mostly injuries on the arms, legs and chest. One of them had a deep burn on the head.Four children have been referred to Kiruddu National Hospital in Kampala. And two who had minor injuries have been discharged and sent home.

Education Minister, Joyce Kaduchu, has also been at the school talking to the parents.

“All of us are really heartbroken,” she said.”Our education system gives everyone an opportunity, regardless of what physical challenges one has. We have lost 11 children under very unfortunate circumstances.”

She added that DNA tests would have to be carried out on the bodies of the children in order to identify them.

In the past, school fires have been caused by children using candles in their dormitories after lights out and leaving them burning.

Rescue efforts have often been hampered by overcrowding and the lack of firefighting equipment at the schools.

A police report in March this year said that there had been at least 18 fire incidents in schools in a period of three months. -BBC

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