Seven girls died early today when a fire gutted their dormitory at a high school in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, the country’s education minister said. The cause of the fire was unknown, Fred Matiangi said. Moi Girls High School will be closed for two weeks to allow for investigations. “At 2 am our matron came telling us to get out of the hostel because there was fire in one of the hostels,” student Warda Sadique told The Associated Press. “So most of the people were panicking, some were jumping through the windows.”
Both Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga quickly expressed their concern over the deaths. Both are returning to campaigning after yesterday’s surprise Supreme Court ruling nullifying last month’s election and calling for a new vote within 60 days.
The fire brought back memories of the deaths of 67 students in a dormitory fire at a high school in eastern Kenya in March 2001. It later emerged the fire was caused by students apparently angered by the school’s administration.
Last year, at least 126 high schools experienced arson attacks in what appeared to be protests by students over the shortening of holidays and limiting of visits by parents. Matiangi took those measures after widespread cheating in 2015 high school final-year exams.