12 November 2018

Uganda: 10 Students Die in Uganda School Dormitory Fire

Photo: Tony Webster/Flickr
Police line. Crime scene tape.

Ten students have been confirmed dead after a fire broke out at St Bernard Secondary School, Manya in Rakai District on Sunday night.

The fire burnt a dormitory that was housing at least 50 Senior Three students.

According to students, the incident occurred at around midnight when the victims had been locked inside the dormitory.

Mr Kayanja Kabogere, an eye witness who was among the residents who rushed to the scene after the incident, said they used an axe to open the door to the dormitory.

"We do not the cause of the fire but we struggled to open the door and saved over 20 students," he said.

Police are yet to establish the cause of the fire.

Some of the victims have been admitted to Manya Health Centre, Kalisizo Hospital and Masaka Regional Hospital.

Property including mattresses, suit cases, clothes and books among other scholastic materials, also got destroyed in the fire.

'INDISCIPLINE'

Ms Rose Nalubowa, a member of the school board of governors blamed the incident on some undisciplined students who had been kicked out of the dormitories.

"There have been some cases of indiscipline among some students and management recently [kicked] them out of the dormitories. We hear they instead rented rooms in Manya town," she said

She said these unruly students had also attempted to torch the school a couple of weeks ago but ran away after pupils in the nearby St Nicholas Primary School saw them.

"Some of the students had become a problem .Yesterday (Sunday) they also locked up the Manya parish priest Fr Emmanuel Kiwanuka in the school chapel as he tried to counsel them," she added.

Ms Nalubowa revealed that prior to this incident, school management had called for an emergency disciplinary meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to address cases of indiscipline among some students.

The school has changed three head teachers in two years.

Mr Henry Nsubuga, the school head teacher declined to comment about the incident.

St Bernard SS, Manya, which is a Catholic Church founded school is among the best performing schools in Rakai District.

Mr Ben Nuwamanya, Rakai District Police Commander said they have so far arrested three students and a school warden to assist them with investigations.

"We are told there have been some cases of indiscipline and the suspects we have got are going to enrich our investigations," he said.

VICTIMS IDENTIFIED

The dead students are Antonio Ssozi, Sam Nsubuga, Antonio Sekitende, Hudson Byamukama, Charles Suuna, Emma Kasozi, Maurice Basiita, Sharif Toyita, Timothy Bukenya and a one Jjunju.

This school fire is the third in Masaka sub region since the year started.

On June 2, fire gutted a dormitory at Bishop Ddungu Primary School in Lwengo District and pupils' property worth millions was destroyed to ashes.

In March, fire also gutted a dormitory at Greenhill Primary School in Kifuuta village, Kitanda Sub-County in Bukomansimbi District, destroying pupils' property also worth millions.

The most devastating school fire in the last decade occurred at Budo Junior School on April 14, 2008 which left 18 pupils and two adults dead.

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