NIAMEY: 10, NOVEMBER, 2021: At least 26 children were lost their lives after a preschool in south-central Niger caught fire, which spread quickly and engulfed classrooms.
The Ministry of National Education stated that, 14 others were injured in the blaze, which devoured a thatched-roof classroom, adding that, the victims were all younger than 7.
As per the mayor of Maradi city, "Right now, we have 26 dead and 13 injured, four of them seriously."
Issoufou Arzika, secretary general of the Niger Teachers' Union, said Monday's fire had “decimated” the school in Maradi. "His union had alerted officials to the danger of the straw and wood classrooms after the Niamey fire," Arzika said, adding that "It is better to hold classes under trees than in straw huts, which have become flammable graves for pupils."
The officials said the deaths moved Niger to ban preschool classes in straw sheds. They added that "Such temporary classrooms have multiplied in recent years as the country has run out of space in sturdier buildings."
Niger ranks among the poorest nations in the world, according to the United Nations, and has one of the fastest-growing populations.
“All the classrooms were built with risky materials,” said Zakaria Salifou, a child protection advocate in Maradi. "My tears keep flowing." On Tuesday, authorities had not found the cause of the blaze and classes remained suspended in Maradi, one of the largest cities in the nation.
In a statement, the country's secretary general of the government Abdou Dangaladima said, "This tragic event once again brings mourning to the Nigerien people."
Three days of mourning have been declared. (04)