Dozens of children died or were burned in theschool fire today in Niger. At least 24 dead and 80 burned, regional governor Chaibou Aboubacar told Dpa news agency, adding that the causes of the fire are not yet known. But a witness quoted by Radio Nagarta spoke of 80 dead children and 40 seriously burned.
The flames destroyed three classes of the Afn school, a wooden and straw building in the center of the southern city of Maradi, economic capital of Niger. The firefighters intervened on the spot, aided by the police and the local population.
Niger, with its 25 million inhabitants, is one of the poorest countries in the world and has one of the lowest literacy rates in Africa, according to UN data. Schools are insufficient and often they are precarious constructions of wood, straw and sheet metal. In some rural areas, classes take place outdoors in the shade of trees. Last year, 20 children died in another school fire in Niamey, the capital. The authorities then announced a school building plan.
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