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Tragedy relives memories of dormitory deaths

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Updated Fri, August 24th 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3

By AUGUSTINE ODUOR

The death of eight pupils at Asumbi Girls Boarding Primary School in Homabay County has evoked memories of past fire tragedies.

Several innocent boys and girls have lost their lives to fire incidents in  boarding schools, raising questions on security of the learners in boarding schools.

Even with interventions to curb fires, arsons and school unrests, the latest tragedy has once again brought to light the living conditions of students and the disregard of Government policies.

In 1998, grief befell the coastal city of Kenya after 26 teenage girls were charred in Bombolulu secondary school near Mazeras when their dormitory caught fire.

Reports indicated that all the students who died were in an overcrowded dormitory of about 130 students.

It was also said that one of the two doors to the dormitory was locked from the outside and all of its ten windows were barred. There were also no fire extinguishers.

A team set up to investigate the blaze reported an electrical fault, an accident and spontaneous combustion.It said some of the girls were killed in a stampede as they tried to escape through two narrow doors. 

According to a report from Asumbi Girls, the girls were also locked in the dormitory.

In 2002, the lives of another 67 boys were claimed in a dormitory at Kyanguli High School in Machakos.

Reports then indicated petrol smell in the school before the fire.

But one of the most chilling memories was that of St Kizito boarding school in Central Province when 71 teenage girls were raped and 19 killed in a dormitory.

Reports then said there were protests on school fees that went unchecked.

The St Kizito story could have been prevented had police reacted more quickly to disturbance reports at the school.

Several teachers who stayed at the school then were also terrified of the 306 male students who were blamed for the act and so did not help.

Two hours later the police had not arrived, and the watchmen called the station from a nearby hospital where they had run for safety.

In 2010, two boys were burnt to death in their sleeping quarters at Endarasha Boys Secondary School dormitory in Nyeri County after some students torched the dormitory.

The two students Kennedy Karogo Njuguna and Joseph Mwangi Maina were trapped when a fire broke out at the Fr Wambugu dormitory where 180 form one students slept. The charred remains of the two students, lay near an exit door.

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