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DAKAR, SENEGAL — A fire broke out late Sunday evening in a small room at a Koranic school near the Senegalese capital of Dakar where more than 50 children were sleeping, killing nine of them and seriously injuring another, officials said on Monday. The cause was not immediately known.
The incident happened at around 11 p.m. local time on Sunday when a fire broke out in a small room of a ramshackle building with wooden walls and zinc roofing at a Koranic school in the Médina district near Dakar. At least 51 children were sleeping in the single room when the fire began.
City officials said emergency services had trouble reaching the school because roads in the area are sandy and very small, significantly delaying rescue attempts and efforts to extinguish the blaze. But 41 children were able to flee the fire on their own and firefighters later rescued a child who suffered severe burns.
Rescue workers later recovered the bodies of nine other children, but their ages and identities were not immediately known. Large crowds of residents were at the scene of the blaze on Monday as a number of government officials visited the site, promising a thorough investigation.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, but a local radio report said it may have been caused by a candle.