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April 21, 2003

School Fire's Death Toll Rises to 30

From: Moscow Times, Russia  - Apr 21, 2003

The Associated Press

MAKHACHKALA, Dagestan -- The death toll in a fire that tore through a boarding school for the deaf reached 30 after two boys who suffered burns and smoke inhalation died, officials said Monday.

Zikrula Magomedov, 13, and Gadzhimutad Ramazanov, 14, died Sunday, said Atikat Magomedgadzhiyeva, a doctor at the hospital in Makhachkala. Both boys had been in a coma, she said.

One boy remains in critical condition, Magomedgadzhiyeva said.

Officials have said the April 10 nighttime blaze was most likely caused by a short circuit. The fire started on the first floor of the two-story building, swiftly climbing up window curtains, and was whipped by high winds up to the second-floor bedrooms where the children were sleeping, officials said.

The rescue efforts were hampered by the children's inability to hear shouts; school employees raced through rooms to shake each child awake.

When firefighters arrived, they were at a loss to give children evacuation instructions, and many children hid under furniture in fear, they said.

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