19 Buddo Junior School Children Killed in Fire

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19 pupils of Buddo Junior School have been killed in a fire that ravaged their dormitories last night. The fire, whose cause is still unknown, started at about 9 p.m. in Nasolo Ward, a dormitory that houses Primary Four girls. There was no electricity at the school at the time and it is believed the fire may have been sparked off by a candle. Exacerbated by the highly flammable pillows and mattresses in the dormitory, the fire quickly spread through Nasolo Ward to the neighbouring Nnalinya and Sangalyambogo wards. The Buddo Junior School administrators, who have been locked in a series of meetings with the State Minister for Primary Education Peter Lokeris, the school board and the police, have not yet publicly commented on the incident. However children at the school, whose identities have been protected, say one of them ran to a watchman at the school gate near the dormitory to report the fire. The watchman reportedly beat up the young girl and chased her back into her dormitory. In the meantime the children were roused by the smoke and began to wake up their classmates and to raise the alarm. One of the girls, Gloria Ayebare, said she was woken up by one of her classmates who began to cough uncontrollably because of the fire. There was a stampede in the densely packed dormitories as the children fought their way through the darkness and smoke out of the fire. One of the doors to the Nasolo Ward, which was closest to the fire, was locked with a padlock and the children had to force their way through the only other exit, on the opposite end of the building. A group of people who live in Kabinjja, the village in which Buddo Junior School is located, heard the screams from the girls and rushed to help them. Some of them managed to enter the school compound, but others were stopped at the gate by the watchman. The neighbours were soon joined by teachers at the school who attempted to put out the fire in vain. The police fire brigade received the first call about the fire at about 9:55 pm and arrived about 20 minutes later to put out the fire. Most of the children who were killed in the fire were burned beyond recognition and it is believed that the death toll may be higher than 19. Children with a range of burns and ailments were rushed to Mulago Hospital and one of the girls died on arrival. The bodies of two adults, who are believed to be neighbors of the school that responded to the children's alarms, have been found the rubble. They have not yet been identified. Frantic parents who received the news of the fire began to flood the school last night. Many of them initially started at the hospitals in Kampala, worried that their children may have been victims of the fire. The school administration made the decision to close the school today and most of the children have returned home. A somber mood hangs over Buddo Junior School. Angry parents are demanding answers as to why there was no adult in the dormitory, why the teachers were so late in responding to the alarm and why a school as established as Buddo doesn't have fire fighting equipment. The Ministry of Education is also demanding answers, particularly because the fire broke out just a week after a fire at St. Savio Junior School in Kisubi.