A fire at a Quranic school outside Liberias capital has killed at least 27 people and many are thought to be children, police said Wednesday.
The fire around midnight gutted a dormitory and school building where students slept about 7 miles east of Monrovia, police spokesman Moses Carter said. Only the imam and two students escaped, he said. The cause of the fire was under investigation.
Hundreds of grief-stricken people stood in shock as ambulances took away the bodies. Others wailed and wept as police pushed back a curious, surging crowd.
The president of the West African nation, George Weah, visited the scene and was due to attend the victims funeral at a Monrovia mosque before burial later in the day, spokesman Isaac Solo Kelgbeh said.
Pastor Emmanuel Herbert of a nearby church, Fire World Pentecostal Assembly, told the Associated Press that he and his congregation woke to sounds of the fire and called for help.
"When I turned around to look, the entire place was red. When I looked through the window, I saw the whole place blazing with fire," he said.
The fire was so strong there was no way to enter the buildings, the pastor said.