Tanzania: School Inferno Death Toll Rises to 11

ONE among four pupils, who sustained serious injuries in a tragic dormitory fire incident in Kyerwa District admitted to Bugando Medical Centre (BMC), in Mwanza City has died, taking the death toll to 11.

An inferno broke out at around midnight at Byamungu Islamic English Medium Primary School, in Kyerwa District On September 14th, this year, killing ten pupils, aged between four to 12 years, leaving six others critically injured.

Kyerwa District Administrative Secretary Mr Benjamin Mwikasyete told the 'Daily News' in a telephone interview yesterday that one more pupil passed away on Monday night.

He identified him as Juma Seif (7), who was expected to be buried later on the day at his home village of Nkwenda, in Kyerwa.

Four among the six injured pupils had been referred to Bugando Medical Centre in Mwanza.

He identified the three patients still admitted at Bugando as Lookman Salihina (6), a resident of Nkwenda village, in Kyerwa District, Avitus Sperius (8) from Kamuli village, in Kyerwa District and Furaha Ashraf (11) from Chanya village, in Kyerwa.

Mr Mwikasyete said one patient was referred to Bukoba Regional Referral hospital for further medical treatment and was identified as Imani Majaliwa (12) from Benaco village, in Ngara District.

Another patient identified as Swablidin Swaibu (11) a resident of Omurushaka village, in Karagwe District remained at the Nyakahanga DDH in stable condition.

Somber mood reigned at Itera village in Kyerwa District, Kagera Region last Friday morning as caskets bearing the bodies of children, who died in the inferno were brought at the village's ground for residents to pay their last respects.

Kagera Regional Commissioner Brig Gen Marco Gaguti led hundreds of mourners to bid farewell to the fallen ten pupils after the completion of DNA tests and identification of their bodies.

Scientists from the Office of the Chief Government Chemist carried out the DNA tests to the bodies of the children, who were burnt beyond recognition.

Addressing mourners at Kyerwa District's Itera village, Brig Gen Gaguti said the nation was mourning the loss of ten innocent lives adding; "As we mourn the deceased children we should make sure that such an incident does not happen again. The children were aged between 4-12 years".

He identified the deceased as Shadidu Siraji (4) from Benaco village, in Ngara District, Alikani Ally (6) a resident of Chonyonyo village, in Karagwe District, Adam Siraji (6) from Ruzinga village, in Missenyi District and Samwel Mohamed (8) from Kayanga village, in Karagwe District.

The list also included Edmond Erickmas (8) a resident of Bugabo village, in Bukoba Rural District, Alimerick Bernard (10) from Mugeza village, Bukoba Urban District, Abubakar Ibrahim (7) from Mabira village, in Karagwe, Optatus Richard (6) from Kayanga-Karagwe, Alfa Alauni (12) from Kibimba-Ngara and Abduhazary Y asin (7) from Kamagambo village, in Karagwe district.

Each body was then handed over to the parents and relatives. Brig Gen Gaguti, on behalf of the government, offered 250,000/- burial costs for each child.

CCM Secretary General, Dr Bashiru Ally, on behalf of the party's Chairman, President John Magufuli consoled the bereaved families.

Addressing Kagera Region's residents on September 16th, this year while on his campaign rally President Dr John Magufuli directed relevant authorities in the country to conduct thorough inspection on all schools with boarding facilities, to establish if they observed safety standards.

The Head of State expressed sadness over the fire incident that killed the children, ordering stern measures to be instituted against those operating without valid permits.

"Fire incidents cannot be allowed to continue claiming innocent lives. Leaders should take action by inspecting schools, especially boarding facilities and ensure fire alert systems installed are working properly," the President said.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Simon Sirro, who visited the scene of the accident on the same day, insisted that no stone will be left unturned until the cause of the accident was established.

He said initial investigation showed that the fire outbreak happened at around midnight in a dormitory where 74 boys were sleeping.

Byamungu Islamic English Medium primary school, in Kyerwa District, has a total of 127 pupils in Standard One to Six. The dormitory which was gutted by fire had 74 pupils-all boys aged from 4 -12 years old.

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