KUALA LUMPUR REUTERS Sept 15- Malaysia faced mounting calls for stronger regulation of religious schools following a horrific fire at an Islamic boarding school that killed 23 victims, most of them teenage boys trapped behind the barred windows of their dormitory.
The fire broke out at a “tahfiz” school where students learn to memorise the Koran. Malaysian officials said there had been 31 similar fire incidents in the past but Thursday’s fire was the worst seen in 20 years.
But media reports said the numbers were much higher. National daily ‘The Star’ said 1,034 fires occurred in registered and unregistered religious schools from August 2015 to August 2017. Of these 211 were burnt to the ground, the newspaper said quoting data from the fire department. Family members of Mohamad Haikal Abdullah, a 12-year-old who died in the blaze, were furious after reports emerged that the only door at the school’s dormitory had caught fire and that the windows had metal bars, leaving the boys trapped and unable to escape.