18 girls killed in fire at school dorm in northern Thailand
A night-time fire at a dormitory of a primary school in northern Thailand killed 18 girls, many of whom had been roused by a dorm-mate but went back to sleep, thinking it was a prank, officials and the girl who sounded the alarm said yesterday. The victims were between five and 12 years old.
Five girls were injured in the Sunday-night fire. Many survived by rappelling down from a second-floor window using sheets tied together to form a rope.
The two-storey, wooden structure that caught fire housed 38 girls, most of them belonging to the area's ethnic minorities. Fifteen girls escaped without injuries. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
Some of the students were still not asleep when the fire broke out and were able to raise the alarm, said Rewat Wassana, manager of the Pithakkaiat Witthaya School, to which the dorm is attached.
The kindergarten and primary school in Wiang Pa Pao district, just outside the city of Chiang Rai, has about 400 day students and boarders. It is about 800 kilometres (500 miles) north of Bangkok.