At least 18 girls die as blaze sweeps through school dorm as they sleep

At least 18 girls have died after a fire swept through the dormitory of a school in northern Thailand. The fire broke out at about 11pm on Sunday local time (4pm GMT) and the girls died as they slept in the private Pitakiatwittaya School Christian primary school in Thailand’s northern Chiang Rai province. Five of their classmates were injured - two of them seriously - and two are still missing, Police Colonel Prayad Singsin, Commander of Vingpatao district in Chiang Rai, said.

But others were asleep and could not escape, resulting in the large number of casualties.

Deputy governor Arkom Sukapan

The school belongs to a local foundation and is home to girls aged between five and 12. It is understood that many of the pupils are from impoverished hill tribes in the mountainous region. Mr Singsin said the fire had been extinguished but its cause was still being investigated, with forensic officers due to arrive later.