School fire in Uganda claims nine lives


Nine students died after fire engulfed a dormitory at a secondary school in southern Uganda, police said, one of the deadliest in a string of conflagrations at schools across the country in recent years.

Police spokesman Patrick Onyango told Reuters nine male students died when the blaze erupted at a dormitory housing about 130 students at St. Bernard Maya secondary school in a district near the border with Tanzania.

Security personnel, Onyango said, suspect the fire was started deliberately by students expelled days earlier over indiscipline.
“It is suspected they could be the ones that set the school on fire because of anger. They came back between midnight and 1 am and set the school ablaze,” he said.
“Our investigation is along that line because that is what we suspect happened.”

Other students were injured in the fire and rushed to nearby health facilities but Onyango said he was yet to establish how many.

Fires at schools, mostly in dormitories, are more frequent, often leaving buildings and students’ personal effects in ashes.

An inferno at a prestigious primary school near Kampala in April 2008 left at least 21 dead and the cause of the fire has never been conclusively established.

Security personnel often blame electrical faults although some point to arson.

Investigations by police take years and are rarely concluded while prosecutions for arson attacks on schools and other targets are rare.