Thailand school dormitory fire kills 17 schoolgirls

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Media captionFootage taken after the fire showed the extent of the devastation

At least 17 girls have been killed by a fire which swept through their school dormitory in northern Thailand.

The fire broke out on Sunday evening when many of the girls, aged between five and 13, were asleep, said police.

One official told AFP that 38 students had been in the dorm at Pithakkiart Witthaya school in Chiang Rai, which takes children from the region's poor hill tribes.

Two girls are still missing and another five were injured, two seriously.

Police Col Prayad Singsin said the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

Local media showed images of the two-storey building consumed by flames, with firefighters tackling the fire.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Images from the scene showed emergency workers removing bodies and injured students from the two-storey building
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The bodies of the young victims are being taken to hospitals for identification

The deputy governor of Chiang Rai, Arkom Sukapan said some of the students had still been awake so were able escape.

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

The Nation newspaper said the victims' bodies had been sent to a local hospital for identification, while a search continues for the two missing girls.

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