Eighteen schoolgirls aged 5 to 12 have died in a fire at a Thai boarding school after becoming trapped in their second-storey dormitory. They were asleep when flames ripped through Pitakiatwittaya School in the Wiang Pa Pao district of Chiang Rai, Thailand on Sunday night at around 11pm on Sunday. Twenty others were rescued through windows by fire fighters who had propped ladders up against the building. It is not yet known what caused the fire. Local police are investigating the incident while trying to account for all of the 38 girls in the building at the time.
The parents of those who died are being asked to travel to Chiang Rai to identify their charred bodies. Some, police warn, have been burned beyond recognition. 'Seventeen girls were killed and two are still missing, with five injured,' Police Colonel Prayad Singsin, Commander of Wiang Pa Pao district in Chiang Rai said.'The fire has been put out, but the cause of the blaze is still under investigation. There were 38 students inside the dormitory when the fire broke out. Some were not yet asleep so they escaped,' deputy governor of the province Arkom Sukapan added.
The school is run by a Christian charity which provides free education to local hill tribe children, CNNreported. It has been open for five years and has around 140 students.