September 20th, 2017

Malaysia official: Improper wall blocked exit in deadly fire

By Eileen Ng, The Associated Press on September 13, 2017.

Police and rescue personnel work at an Islamic religious school cordoned off after the fire on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. A fire department official in Malaysia said a fire at the Islamic religious school has killed people, mostly teenagers. (AP Photo)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – A Malaysian official says a wall that blocked students and teachers from an exit that might have saved them from a deadly fire “shouldn’t have been there.”

The fire early Thursday killed 24 people in an Islamic school dormitory on the outskirts of Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. Officials say the blaze blocked the only exit, leaving victims trapped behind barred windows.

Noh Omar, minister for urban well-being, housing and local government, says the school’s original architectural plan including an open top floor that allowed access to two exit staircases. But he says a wall was built dividing that floor, leaving only one exit for the dorm.

Omar says “the wall shouldn’t have been there.”

He says the school submitted an application for a fire safety permit that hadn’t been approved.

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