Screams and pleas for help could clearly be heard from the Pusat Tahfiz Darul Ittifaqiyah, Kampung Datuk Keramat, in the morning blaze at the school this morning, said witnesses. (Photo courtesy of DBKL)

KUALA LUMPUR: Screams and pleas for help could clearly be heard from the Pusat Tahfiz Darul Ittifaqiyah, Kampung Datuk Keramat, in the morning blaze at the school this morning, said witnesses.

One witness, Shahirman Shahril, 39, said he woke at 5am to the sounds of people screaming that there was a fire.

"My friends and I jumped in to help. It was still dark outside, and the fire was raging.

"We urged two or three tahfiz students to jump (from the upper floors) as the fire was raging. They all suffered burns.

"We couldn't help that many as the fire was so big.

"Some of my friends actually made it to the upper floors of the school but had to turn back as it was too hot. We were made to understand that many people in the building were trapped.

"We heard some of them crying that it was hot, some were yelling 'tolong abang, tolong'," he said.

The fire is believed to have broken out around 5am. The Fire and Rescue Department said 23 students and two wardens perished in the tragedy.

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