KUALA LUMPUR: Firemen who had responded to the tahfiz school fire in Datuk Keramat made a heartwrenching discovery, finding students' charred remains piled on top of each other.
Fire and Rescue Department deputy director-general Datuk Soiman Jahid said the remains were found at several locations, all near windows at the third floor of the religious learning facility at Jalan Keramat Hujung there.
He said authorities believe that the victims were trying to escape, but had no way to go as all windows there were fitted with grills that could not be opened from the inside.
"When firemen were carrying out firefighting operation, they found 13 charred remains, many on top of each other at the right hand side of the hostel, eight others at the left side while another was near the front door.
"(As of 11am) the death toll of this tragedy is 24, including two teachers.
"Firemen who first arrived at the scene at 5.52am had managed to rescue five other students using ladder. The victims were then rushed to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital for treatment," he said when met at the scene.
Soiman said they believed that the incident could have been caused by either a short circuit or mosquito coil.
He said checks also revealed that the premises had yet to receive approval from the authorities.
Soiman said the school management had submitted its building plan recently, but had yet to receive approval.
When asked if the school had firefighting equipment, he replied in the negative.
Soiman said why the school had a staircase for victims to escape, authorities believed that they were unable to do so as it was located in the middle of the building and due to thick smoke.
He said they will be summoning the school owner to record a statement.