September 19, 2019
Local people turn out to view the scene of an overnight fire in Paynesville, 7 miles north east of Monrovia, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. Police in Liberia say a fire at a Quranic school outside the capital, Monrovia, has killed more than 20 people and many are thought to be children. A police spokesman says the fire around midnight gutted a dormitory and school building where students slept. JONATHAN PAYE-LAYLEH / AP PHOTO
By The Associated Press
PAYNESVILLE, Liberia – The imam at a Quranic boarding school in Liberia that burned this week says the death toll could rise above the 27 people reported.
Mohammed Lamine Barry spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday, a day after the fire. It was not clear how many children had been sleeping inside when the blaze began.
An investigation into the cause has begun, and President George Weah has declared a day of mourning.
Barry says some children were as young as 10.
He says the doors had been open but fears that people were overcome by smoke. He escaped with his wife and small child but says he lost a nephew in the fire.
The school is located just outside the capital of the West African nation, Monrovia.