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Fire at Islamic school kills 13 children in Yangon

Yangon, Apr 2 (): Fire caused at an Islamic school in Botahtaung Township, Yangon at about 3 am today, has destroyed the school and killed 13 children.

Yangon Region Fire Services Department head Kyi Win said fire broke out because of overheated voltage regulator. Most of the children escaped unharmed by running out of a door after police knocked it open, he said. Fire fighters quenched the fire, but the school with the two-storey building was badly burned.

Fire first erupted at an orphanage that operates from a mosque in Yangon, Burma’s main city. Police blamed electricity for the accident amid tensions over communal violence between Muslims and Buddhists.

Reports say that all of the victims were boys but the authorities did not release their ages. The dormitory had locked its doors because of the recent tensions, so the children struggled to escape. But, it was not immediately clear how the 13 victims became trapped.

Immediately, riot police were sent to the accident site. At least three trucks of riot police were deployed near the mosque. A huge crowd gathered around the accident area, concerned that the fire was connected to the recent communal violence in other parts of the country.

Burials have started for the victims of the fire accident. Hundreds of mourners have gathered in the Muslim cemetery in a suburb north of Yangon. The relatives of the victims were praying and weeping and the crowd was voicing suspicions the fire was started deliberately.

Police have promised to establish a committee including Muslim leaders to investigate the cause, while the government insisted people to avoid spreading rumours.

Communal tensions are gripping highly in the former army-ruled country after a stretch of sectarian violence that happened last month killed 43 people and several mosques and homes were burnt in several towns in central Myanmar.