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Two teachers die in fire at Saudi girls’ school

A fire broke out at a girls’ private school in the Saudi port city of Jeddah, killing two teachers and injuring 44 other people, a local civil defense official said on Sunday.

Abdel Rahman al-Ghamdi told AFP that firefighters and emergency rescue teams backed by air support managed to evacuate 700 students, 110 teachers and 32 employees from the three-storey school building after the fire broke out on Saturday afternoon.

“Two teachers were killed ... and at least 44 people were injured in the fire,” Ghamdi said.

He warned that the death toll could rise as several of the victims were in “critical condition,” without specifying if these were children or adults.

The school comprises a nursery, a kindergarten, a primary school and a middle school.

Ghamdi said an investigation is underway into the cause of the fire that began in the school basement.

In 2002, Saudi Arabia’s religious police blocked schoolgirls from fleeing a blazing building because they were not dressed according to strict Islamic tradition, a must in Saudi society. Fifteen girls died in the fire.