Raging fire dreadfully consumed at least 28 persons most of them students at an Islamic dormitory in Bassa Town Community, Paynesville where kids go to recite the Quran. Redlight, Paynesville was a scene of sorrow and tears on account of the tragedy that has hit the Quran Memory Institute, as community dwellers struggled unsuccessfully to rescue at least 28 dying kids who could not stop screaming for help through hot iron bar windows until they were finally consumed painfully by fire.
Eyewitnesses who rushed to the scene explain to this paper that at about 12 a.m. on Wednesday, 18 September kids inside the blazing Quran Memory Institute facility screamed through the windows of the dormitory, seeking help.
But each time the kids ran to the window of the flaming building, eyewitnesses narrate that efforts to get the victims out were undermined because they would tragically come in contact with hot iron bars that installed at the widows and then run back inside the building.
Residents faced difficulty in breaking into the building because it is protected with iron bars at the door and windows as part of security measures against the high wave of criminalities in the community and across Liberia.At least two kids were rescued, but there are reports that the lady who rescued them reportedly died when she returned inside the building to get additional kids out.
Hundreds of residents from Bassa Town Community and its environs, including women, men, children, bike riders, taxi drivers and marketers gathered in mass at the incident scene.They could not hold back their tears as everyone had their own narrative of the incident.“Oh God! What kind of bad news here again? Allowing all these little children die just like that. We the mothers [our] hearts [are] bleeding ooh! May Allah have mercy on those innocent souls,” a weeping lady asserted on the scene.
Following the incident, President George Manneh Weah visited the scene early Wednesday morning, encouraging families of the victims “to have strength” as he describes the death of the “28 kids” as a disaster.“It’s painful, it’s hurtful! So there’s not much we can say but to extend our sympathy to the bereaved families,” he told reporters in an interview.President Weah says he will encourage intelligence to find out what has happened, announcing that his government is with the families of the deceased.
“We will do all our best to make sure that they establish what happened and then whatever assistance the government can render the family, we will be there,” he says.Recounting his sad experience from the accident scene, David Saah tells this paper that at 12:40 a.m. on Wednesday, he and his friend heard a huge noise, but they thought it was armed robbery, given series of armed robbery attacks in the community.Suddenly, David Saah says they began hearing people shouting fire.According to David, they ran outside to find a solution, but they did not have the tools to burst the wall of the building.
“Brother, the whole place got bright with the fire while the children were crying in the building. We tried bursting the wall with stick but when you hit the wall is like you have added gas to the fire. The fire blaze was beyond our control. We tried our best, but we couldn’t control the fire,” David explains in tears.
Another lady identified as Massa Kromah who claimed to be a relative to the caretaker of the school, Fatu Jalloh narrated that the students were all males, aged seven years and above.The caretaker of the dormitory Fatu Jalloh could not speak immediately due to the trauma caused by the incident.
However, Massa narrates that the building had eight rooms, but only the front door was accessible to the students due to constant attacks by criminals in the community.She says in the building were over 30 students, including a teacher who was also sleeping in the building with them.
However, Massa details that the teacher and the Imam’s wife who tried saving the children died along with the victims.
The Imam’s wife is said to have saved the first two kids and then returned in the building, but she never survived this time around.
Up to press time, there has been no information leading to the cause of the fire that killed the young students, their teacher and the Imam’s wife.By Ben P. Wesee–Edited by Winston W. Parley