Karagwe/Mwanza. Byamungu Islamic Primary School fourth-grade pupil Swabrudini Swaibu, 11, said yesterday that on the night of the fire incident in the dormitory, he and his mates were fast asleep.
“We were startled by a sudden, loud bang followed by cries for help as everyone scrambled for the doorway. The entire building was in smoke. Without thinking much, I jumped out through the window,” he narrated about how the tragedy unfolded at the Kyerwa District based school.
He added: “There were so many pupils scrambling by the doorway. I knew I couldn’t make it because there were too many of us there. So, I just jumped out through the window.”
He said he was lucky as he did not suffer huge injuries.
Nyakahanga Hospital’s medical in charge Furaha Kahindo said compared with the other victims, Swaibu had only suffered burns by 3 percent while several others had burns ranging from 20 to 56 percent.
For his part, Bernard Sipelius, 32, the father of Avitus Bernard, 8, who also suffered injuries in the blaze, said the incident brought back fresh memories of a fire incident due to gas explosion that caused the loss of his daughter at home.
Speaking at the Nyakahanga Hospital where he was caring for his son, Sipelius said a year ago, he lost his nine-year-old daughter after being blown up by a gas canister at their home in Kagenji Village in the district.
“Reports of a school fire incident scared and shocked me because I lost my other child in a gas fire accident. My fears grew when I arrived at the school and was told that my son (Avitus) was among those who had been taken to hospital. I thank God he is alive. I believe he will recover,” said Mr Sipelius. The head nurse in the Children’s Ward at the hospital, Ms Theofrida Ndibalema, said the conditions of the two injured pupils who were still under their care after four others were referred to Bugando Medical Centre in Mwanza was progressing well.
Speaking about DNA tests for identification of bodies of those who lost their lives in the incident, Dr Kahindo said samples had already been sent to the Bugando Medical Centre for the process.
The move is an implementation of the government’s decision announced by Kagera Regional Commissioner Marco Gaguti to use DNA tests to identify pupils who lost their lives in the accident as their bodies were burnt beyond recognition.
The government has also announced that it would foot burial expenses for the pupils who lost their lives and ordered a seven-day closure of Byamungu starting yesterday.
The director and owner of the school, Abdul Bushangama has already been arrested following orders of IGP Simon Sirro. Education officers and inspectors who inspected the school are also expected to be questioned over the matter.
Four of the seven pupils injured in the fire that razed the boys’ dormitory on the eve of September 14, have been referred to Bugando Medical Centre for further treatment.
In the accident, 10 students lost their lives, seven were injured and over 50 others came out safely, but were still in shock. Three others had taken refuge in banana plantations nearby.