Fire Claims 28 at Islamic School in Paynesville

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Bodies of the 28 Islamic School fire victims, prepared for burial.

President Weah: “It’s disastrous, painful and it hurts.”

A major tragedy hit an Islamic community school in the clustered Bassa Town settlement in Red Light, Paynesville City, where at 26 Islamic students between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age and two instructors, met their tragic demise in a house fire.

Frantic efforts by neighbors and other residents to extinguish the blazing fire proved fruitless as the fire engulfed the entire school building. Two students, who were fortunate to escape death, are reportedly seeking medication attention at the JFK Medical Center, eyewitnesses said.

The Madrissah Islamic school, situated very close to a mosque established by members of the Fula ethnic group,  hosted the 26 male students as a day care and boarding institution.

According to highly placed security sources, the fire disaster or tragedy occurred at about 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 17, after a heavy downpour of rain that fateful evening.

During a prompt visit at the scene, President George Manneh Weah said it is unfortunate for someone or people, especially children, to die in a fire disaster. “We want the family to know that the government is with them and will do all to establish the cause of the fire outbreak.

“I want to encourage them to have strength, because when one person dies, it’s painful. With this saga, it’s disastrous, painful and it hurts,” President Weah said.

President Weah, Rep. Thomas Fallah and other government officials visit the scene of the fire disaster

The cause of the fire has not been established. The Liberia National Police and National Disaster Management Agency are investigating the incident, a statement from the Executive Mansion says.

However, Prominent residents of Bassa Town community, in separate interviews with the Daily Observer, alleged that the Liberia Electricity Corporation transmission lines connected to the Islamic School and Fula Mosque were faulty and caused the fire. Other sources say the school was connected to “community current” — someone who owns a large generator and sells electricity to subscribers in the neighborhood.

As news of the fire tragedy broke out on radio and social media, thousands of Liberians flooded in and out of the scene of the fire disaster.

Almost all of the children’s bodies were burnt beyond identification, except through highly specialized medical examination by expert medical specialists.

Madrissah Islamic school students and their teachers

At the scene, all the parents and relatives of the deceased students were seen weeping and wailing as the bodies were pulled out of the debris of the totally destroyed school building.

Some of the relatives, mainly members of the Fula ethnic group, described the incident as an irreparable loss. They however prayed and offered supplications that Allah (God) grant the innocent Arabic students some beautiful places in Heaven and bring comfort to the hearts and souls of the bereaved parents and relatives.

“We are indeed in disbelief and total shock that such tragedy and disaster have snatched our beloved, brilliant and promising Arabic school children forever from the face of our troublesome planet, Earth,” said Madam Salimatu Bah, mother of three of the deceased boys.

“I definitely have hope that our children are now going to meet and rest with our mighty Allah in paradise, where I believe there is no sorrow and grief like such a fire disaster,” Madam Bah added.

Scene of the fire disaster

During the transfer of the bodies of the deceased into a Ministry of Health pick-up, hundreds of weeping and wailing men and women swarmed the vehicle and it took security personnel almost 45 minutes to get through the massive crowd of people who wanted to take a glimpse of the corpses, which had been collected in black bags.

A Madrissah school is an Islamic institution where students assemble to study and memorize the Holy Qu’ran in Arabic for a certain period of time.

According to sources close to institution the students had already completed memorizing the entire Holy Qu’ran as one major requirement of the Islamic school.

The bodies of the deceased, once gathered from the scene, were bagged and taken for final prayers at 2:00 p.m. today, September 18, at the 17th Street Mosque in Sinkor, Monrovia. They were subsequently interred at the Muslim graveyard in Gaye Town, Old Road community.

The prayers for the victims were attended by several dignitaries, including political leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress, Alexander B. Cummings. Mr. Cummings extended sympathy to the families, while describing its as a national tragedy.

Meanwhile, Paynesville City Corporation (PCC), in a statement posted on its website, express sorrow over the tragic deaths of the children.

“The Mayor, City Council and employees of the City Government of Paynesville mourn the tragic death of at least 26 pupils and two instructors of the Bassa Town Quranic Recitation Center located in Paynesville City,” the statement said.

Alvin Worzi contributed to this story.

5 COMMENTS

  1. This is totally unacceptable and a national disaster. Too many fire incidents and unnecessary car accidents happening in Liberia lately. When will this madness be minimized? We call on the relevant authorities in Government institutions and private citizens alike to take the necessary precautions to avert the unnecessary and sometimes avoidable loss of precious life.
    Indeed Mama Liberia has just lost 28 of her children. These are our future leaders and we ought to protect them. I am outraged……

  2. What a painful lost. I can imagine someone’s child that can be mine crying for help and shouting fire fire fire it is burning me, mama where are u, papa where are u. O God what a lost may their soul rest in peace. I wish I was there to save at lease a child out of the 28 kids. I wonder no adult was closer to go in to help save a soul, a Liberian, a future president, a leader, a doctor, a nurse, an Engineer, a lawyer, and more. These Are equal to 28 senators or representatives that could have help to make Liberia a better place all burn in one-day. With the many people living in the communities, no one could try.
    This is really a bad sign. This is not just for Muslims, it’s for Christian, traditional people, all Liberian, the churches need to pray, the government need to host the nation’s flag half way. Honor those kids with a last day to be remembered. To tell the world that no matter who or what we are, we stand together and never will this happen in mama Liberia again.
    Again may the kids souls resting peace and
    May God help and save my Country Liberia.
    Amen

  3. My condolences to the families of those future lost Liberian leaders. May God guide the families as they go through this difficult time.

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