A fire at a government secondary school, Bwalbwang, Gindiri in Plateau state in northern Nigeria, has killed 26 young Christian female students.

Twenty-three of the students died during the fire at their hostel, while three others died at the Jos University Teaching Hospital after being admitted for burns.

The fire broke out on the night of Monday, March 5. By Wednesday, the remains of 23 students, burnt beyond recognition, had been retrieved from the ruins of the hostel. They were buried in a mass grave a few meters away from the hostel.

Dr Daniel Iya, chief medical director of the hospital, told ENI that two other students were in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), while four more were recuperating in one of the hospital wards.

The school's principal, Hudung Mara, told ENI that she and her teachers had been unable to rescue the students because the fire was "ferocious and uncontrollable."

"Even as some of [the bodies] were being carried out, they were breaking into pieces like dried wood," she said.

Mara said rescue efforts had been hampered because of security measures at the hostel. All the doors were securely locked. The windows had protective bars to stop intruders. A few students escaped through an opening made at the rear end of the hostel by the rescuers.

"We were holding a night vigil which started at about 8 p.m. shortly after prayers," said one of the surviving students, Manyit Maichibi. "You see, after the prayer we all felt like singing and making ourselves happy. We were holding the dance and singing outside the dormitory, but within the fence." Maichibi said a local boy came and asked if he could join in, but the girls refused, saying "the place is only for girls."

According to the student, the girls then went back into ...

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