MUKONO, Uganda — A fire at a boarding school for blind students has killed 11 children in a rural community just outside Uganda’s capital, Kampala, the school administrator and police said on Tuesday.
“One of our dormitories caught fire and burned around midnight. The matron sounded the alarm,” said Francis Kinubi, the school’s founder. “It was one of the dormitories for young girls and it took and burned and very unfortunately 11 girls, little daughters, perished.”
Police said in a statement that six other people were hospitalized in critical condition. They said it was not yet known what caused the overnight fire that engulfed a girls’ dormitory at Salama School for the Blind in Mukono District.
Fatuma Ndisaba, a senior Mukono official, told local television station NTV that the victims, including girls aged between 7 and 10, had been burned beyond recognition. The bodies of the victims will be identified through DNA analysis, she said.
“You can’t tell which is which,” she said, of the charred bodies.
A small crowd including distressed women gathered outside the school gates.
Police cordoned off the scene and military officials were seen investigating. Britain’s Princess Anne, who is due in the East African country this week, was due to visit the school on Friday.
School fires have been a concern for education officials in Uganda, where classrooms and dormitories are often overcrowded and there is usually no firefighting equipment available. square. Authorities cited poor electrical connections as sparking in some cases.
Kinubi, the administrator of Salama School for the Blind, acknowledged a lack of safety equipment.
“I have to admit that we don’t have systems like fire extinguishers because we have always appealed to the government to provide us with some of these gadgets, but to no avail,” he said.
Two dormitories at a major boarding school in Kampala were destroyed in separate incidents in 2020. No one was injured.
In 2008, 19 primary school students were killed in an overnight fire at a boarding school in Kampala.
Muhumuza reported from Kampala, Uganda.