Kenya sackings after deadly school dormitory fire

Burnt out dormitory at Asumbi Boarding Primary School, Homa Bay county, Kenya The windows had grills and wire mesh, preventing the pupils from escaping

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Kenya's education minister has sacked two top education officers after the deadly fire at a private junior school near the lakeside city of Kisumu.

Eight girls died on Wednesday night when they were unable to open the dormitory's door to escape the blaze.

"This is a tragic incident that should not have happened," Kenya's Standard paper quotes Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo as saying.

The body overseeing private schools should also fire the head, he said.

Although the Asumbi Boarding Primary School is privately owned by the local Catholic Church, the government teacher employment body, the Teachers Service Commission, appoints head teachers.

'Electrical fault'

The BBC's Wanyama Chebusiri at the school in western Kenya says the fire broke out during the school holidays, when private tuition at schools is banned.

Mr Kilonzo said Beatrice Asiango, the Homa Bay county education director, and William Okumu, the district education officer, were being dismissed as they had failed to implement the holiday teaching ban.

One of the Catholic nuns at the school, Sister Margaret Aringo, denied allegations that the girls were not able to escape because the dormitory had been locked from outside as a security measure.

The windows were also covered with a grill and wire mesh, preventing the pupils from escaping.

Sister Aringo told the BBC the girls who perished were not at the school for extra-coaching but were part of the group of students returning from an academic trip.

Homa Bay's police commander, Kennedy Wabwoba, told the BBC the matter was being investigated and the police might press criminal charges if anyone was found to be negligent.

It is not clear how the fire started, but reports suggest it was an electrical fault.

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