Nine students of St Bernard's Mannya secondary school in Rakai district lost their lives when a fire gutted their dormitory in the early hours of today morning.
The dead students are reportedly all from the senior three class. Their charred bodies have been taken to Kampala for DNA testing to identify them. Four other students were critically injured and more than 20 others are in hospital nursing serious injuries. The dead have been identified as Remegious Tamale, Antonio Ssekidde, Godfrey Lutaaya, Timothy Bukenya, Emmanuel Kasozi, Charles Ssuuna, Morris Basita and Sharif Dogiye.
Preliminary findings indicate that the fire started shortly after midnight at the senior three boys' dormitory that accommodated more than 30 students. A number of students from the dormitory were rescued by police and residents in the area before being rushed to Kitovu referral hospital. Police confirmed the death of the nine students.
But one of the community members who rushed to the scene following the fire outbreak claimed that they had by 03:15am recovered 12 bodies. Earlier information indicates that unknown persons could have locked the boys' dormitory before setting it on fire.
Rescue teams struggled to unlock the padlocks outside the dormitory doors, in an effort to save the children. A number had lost their lives by the time the rescue teams broke into rooms.
According to a statement by police spokesperson Emilian Kayima, there is a suspicion that ten students recently expelled from the school could have had a hand in starting the fire.
"We suspect that 10 senior four students who were recently expelled due to indiscipline could have been behind the fire. We have already arrested one so that we can interrogate him," the statement reads.