Deadly dormitory fire kills 18 schoolgirls in Thailand

Since most of the girls in the dormitory of the Thai school were asleep when the fire broke out, they couldn’t ask for help soon and were trapped

Bangkok: At least 18 minor girls were killed and several others injured when a devastating fire swept through the dormitory of a private school for children of hill tribes in northern Thailand, police said yesterday.

The burnt remains of the ain Chiang Rai district in northern Thailand yesterday. Pic/AFP
The burnt remains of the ain Chiang Rai district in northern Thailand yesterday. Pic/AFP

Five schoolgirls were injured in the blaze, which broke out at the two-storey building of Pithakkiart Witthaya School in Chiang Rai province late on Sunday night. The girls who died in the fire were aged between five and 12 years. Two of the injured were in a serious condition.

There were 38 schoolgirls staying at the dormitory, most of whom were asleep when the fire broke and were unable to escape the blaze. They came from hill tribe villages in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai to study in the town.

After the blaze broke out officials could only evacuate a few of the girls while the rest were trapped inside. Most of the victims were burned beyond recognition. Rescuers picked through the debris late Sunday night and into the morning yesterday.

Rescue op
Sawang Momdee, the Chiang Rai chief disaster mitigation officer, said disaster mitigation officials, rescuers and police combed through the boarding house trying to locate the two missing girls. Firefighters pulled survivors and bodies from a window on the second floor of the wooden building.

Thailand, which is home to hill tribes who mainly live in remote area bordering Laos and Myanmar, has poor safety standards and accidents are common across the country.

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