Eighteen girls have been killed in a dormitory fire at a primary school in northern Thailand.
Many of the boarders had been woken by a fellow pupil but thought it was a prank and went back to sleep, officials and the girl who raised the alarm said.
The victims were aged between five and 12.
Five girls were injured in the blaze on Sunday night. Many survived by abseiling from a second-floor window using sheets tied together to form a rope.
The two-storey wooden structure which caught fire housed 38 girls, most of them belonging to the area’s ethnic minorities. Fifteen girls escaped unhurt.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
Some of the students were 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 dormitory 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 800km north of Bangkok.
Rewat said the fire broke out in the dorm’s lower level.
“We have a teacher who sleeps with the girls in the dorm. She tried to help the students escape,” Rewat told reporters .
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved