At least 10 boys have burned to death at a boarding school in Uganda after expelled students padlocked doors before setting three dorms alight, according to local reports.
Officials arrested three former students believed to have started the blaze, which broke out minutes after midnight on Monday in a block that housed more than 60 pupils at St Bernard Secondary School in Rakai.
Greater Masaka Regional Police Commander, Latif Zaake, told local paper New Vision the security guard on duty at the time of the attack had also been taken into custody.
At least 40 other students “escaped with injuries of varying degrees”, the Ministry of Education said.
10 Students have been killed by fire at St Benard Secondary school,Mannya,Rakai district in Central Uganda. It's alleged that some S.4 students last night locked a S.3 dormitory and set it ablaze. pic.twitter.com/WKU5VgKYfC
— @AaronAinomugisha (@AaronAinomugis3) November 12, 2018
Henry Nsubuga, the school’s principal, said he suspected a group of students expelled from school for misconduct were behind the incident, New Vision reported.
Ugandan councillor Gerald Karasira told New Vision locals first battled the fire using sand, water and bricks as the school’s fire extinguishers had expired.
Rescuers were eventually forced to retreat and wait for firefighters, who arrived in the morning, due to heavy smoke inside the property and the locked doors.
“Had the firefighting truck been near within the district, maybe we would have saved lives and property,” Mr Karasira said.
Several senior government officials, including Uganda’s education and security ministers, visited the school to offer prayers for the victims in the wake of the attack, the BBC reported.