Monday, 18 November 2019

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Inquiry says 48th Street mosque fire ‘not arson’

An inquiry into a fire at a mosque school in Yangon in which 13 boys died has found that the blaze was accidental.

“It is not arson as rumors being circulated suggest. No one set this mosque on fire. It caught fire due to a step-up voltage device over-heating,”  said Chief Minister Myint Swe to members of the media on Wednesday evening.

The fire broke out in the early morning of April 2, trapping the boys in the upper floor dormitory of the school as they slept.

At the time of fire, the emergency services who arrived on the scene focused only on extinguishing fire and not on evacuating the children from the burning building, said the report.

Chief Minister Myint Swe told the media that five Islamic religious organizations had accepted the findings of the inquiry commission report when it was presented to them.

The regional government said that the burnt mosque would be rebuilt and run as a mosque again after submitting request letter to the city development committee.

The fire came at an inopportune time for local authorities and the Muslim community as it followed on the heels of anti-Muslim riots in central Myanmar and a period of inter-communal tension in the former capital.

Fire services and government authorities initially responded with an explanation to quell raising suspicions in the Muslim community: “The fire—caused by the overheating of a transformer placed under the staircase—spread, trapping the boys sleeping in the attic. As a result, 13 twelve-year-old boys died of suffocation after inhaling smoke,” a fire service officer said, reading from a statement, according to a report by Reuters.

The committee was comprised of seven members from various government bodies, including Kyi Win, the head of the Yangon Region Fire Services Department, Police Lt-Col Thet Lwin, deputy commander of the Yangon Region Police Force, and Aung Kyi, the head of Yangon Region Religious Affairs Department.

For more background:
  1. Investigation team formed to probe Yangon mosque fire
  2. Suspicions flare about Yangon mosque fire
  3. 13 boys killed in fire at Islamic school

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