Eleven children died and six are in critical condition after a fire broke out at Salama School for the Blind in eastern Uganda as pupils were sleeping.
The fire started at about 1am in the dormitory early Tuesday where at least 27 visually impaired children in Mukono district’s Luga village, east of the capital, Kampala while sleeping.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation according to a statement from the Uganda Police Force.
“The cause of the fire is currently unknown but so far 11 deaths as a result of the fire have been confirmed while six are in critical conditions and admitted [to hospital],” the Uganda Police Force said on Twitter.
“Most of the dead are children at the school and our sympathies go to the parents,” internal affairs minister General Kahinda Otafiire told reporters.
He said the school has been cordoned off as a “crime scene” and promised accountability – “As government, we shall go to the root cause of the fire and if there are any culprits they will be apprehended and the law will take its course,” he added.
The school’s head teacher Francis Kirube, who is also blind, said the flames swept through the dormitory as the pupils slept.
Images broadcast on Ugandan television showed a charred but still largely intact building where the fire broke out, its window frames and door blackened and the corrugated roof damaged.
Forensic teams were seen in white protective gear at the school while grieving parents gathered nearby.
Salama was built in April 1999 by the local government and serves children and young adults between the ages of six and 25.
Uganda has suffered a string of deadly school fires in recent years. In November 2018, 11 boys died and another 20 suffered severe burns in a suspected arson attack at a boarding school in southern Uganda.
In April 2008, 18 schoolgirls burned to death along with one adult when a fire engulfed their dormitory at a junior school near the Ugandan capital.
In March 2006, at least 13 children were killed and several hurt when a fire razed a religious school in western Uganda. In July of the same year, six children died in a similar fire in the east.