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17 Students Killed at Pitakiatwittaya School Blaze in the Wiang Pa Pao, Chiang Rai

Forensic exports inspect a burnt building at the Pitakkiat Wittaya School in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Forensic exports inspect a burnt building at the Pitakkiat Wittaya School in the northern province of Chiang Rai -  Photo Athit Perawongmetha

 

CHIANG RAI -  A terrible fire has swept through the Pitakiatwittaya School in the Wiang Pa Pao district of Chiang Rai, killing at least 17 in their dormitory, police said on Monday.

District police chief Colonel Prayad Singsin said the fire broke out late on Sunday as the girls, aged five to 12, slept at the Christian school in Wiang Pa Pao district of Chiang Rai.

Investigators are looking at the possibility of faulty lighting on the floor below.

Forensic experts inspect a burnt building at the Pitakkiat Wittaya School in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Charred wooden rafters opened to the sky at the Pitakiatwittaya School in the Wiang Pa Pao district of Chiang Rai. – Athit Perawongmetha

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“Most of the losses were because the children were asleep,” said district police chief Colonel Prayad Singsin.

Two of five injured children were in critical condition, he said.

Sant Sukhavachana, a senior regional forensics officer said forensic experts sifted through the debris and ashes inside the concrete shell of the building. Preliminary indications suggested a faulty fluorescent light on the ground floor may have been the cause.

Na-me Pratikili, 57, who lost six relatives, weeps near a burnt building at the Pitakkiat Wittaya School in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Na-me Pratikili, 57, who lost six grand-kids, weeps near a burnt building at the Pitakkiat Wittaya School -Photo Athit Perawongmetha

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A hot fragment fell on to a pile of clothes and started the fire, he said. The children likely died due to smoke inhalation. “There was a lot of smoke and the room where it happened was right below where the children were sleeping,” he said.

A total of 38 children of the 142 that attend the school were in the dormitory when the fire started, school head Pim Wasana told Reuters. The alarm was raised by a school cleaner.

Malawian Saw-wa, 33, (L) and Yupin Saw-wa, 28 who lost their daughters, cry near a burnt building at the Pitakkiat Wittaya School

Malawian Saw-wa, 33, (L) and Yupin Saw-wa, 28 who lost their daughters, cry near a burnt building at the Pitakkiat Wittaya School

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“I am at a loss for words,” Pim Wasana said. “I don’t know what I should do, but the only thing on my mind now is to try to find a way to ease the parents’ suffering.”

Namae Patikiri,57, lost six grandchildren in the blaze, “Five of them had only moved here a year ago,” she said, crying. “The other one had only been here for two weeks.”

Photographs on the school’s Facebook page showed firefighters struggling to douse the flames as they tore through the wooden building.

Thai media showed a fire truck spraying water onto the blaze as the upper story of the school was consumed by the fire.

Rescue workers picked through the debris late Sunday and into Monday morning.

 

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CRIS is accepting donations to help victims of the Pitakkiat Wittaya School fire. All donations are very welcome, but the school is in great need of financial support for reconstruction and medical support for the injured students, many of whom are from impoverished local hill tribes.

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Posted by on May 23 2016. Filed under Chiangrai News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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