Locals report hearing explosions and seeing body parts before smoke clears as firefighters rescue hundreds of girls
Dozens of children have been killed in a devastating fire at their boarding school in Niger, officials have said.
Emergency services said that around 50 children are still missing after the fire broke out early on Thursday morning in the city of Agadez, in southern Niger.
Ghida Dadé, the country’s minister of social affairs, told AFP that 30 students have died and 50 were injured. “These are the minimum figures,” she said.
Niger is one of the world’s poorest countries, where over 45% of the population live on less than $2 a day.
Locals said that they heard explosions and then saw bodies strewn across the school grounds.
Local civil servant Sèkouba Oumarou told Reuters that he saw the bodies of five girls, four of them with their necks slit open. “The bodies of the other girls are still inside the building,” he said.
Ibrahim Assaye, an official from the local governor’s office, told Reuters that the school was full of teenage girls when the fire broke out. He said: “The fire spread from the kitchen. The girls ran out of the school and some of them fell down the hill and there was a stampede to escape.”
Initial fire-fighting efforts were hampered as firefighters struggled to get the fire under control, senior officials told Niger’s ANI news agency. Other sources said that the remote area where the fire broke out was unreachable by phone.