More than 20 children buried after fire incident at school

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The bodies of more than 20 children killed by a fire in a school in Niger were buried on Tuesday in the city of Maradi.

The 20 children were buried after a ceremony at a mosque attended by relatives and authorities.

Three classrooms made of straw were consumed by the fire at a pre-school and primary school called ‘AFN’ in Maradi on Monday.

Niger has tried to fix shortages of school buildings by constructing thousands of straw and woodsheds to serve as classrooms, with children sometimes sitting on the ground.

Fires in highly flammable classrooms are common but rarely result in casualties.

Three days of mourning have been declared in the Maradi region from Tuesday.

"This tragic event once again puts the Nigerien people in mourning," the government said in a statement and added that straw and wood classrooms would henceforth be banned across the country.

Issoufou Arzika, secretary-general of the Niger Teachers' Union, told AFP that Monday's fire had "decimated" the school in Maradi.

Arzika said his union had alerted officials to the danger of the straw and wood classrooms after the Niamey fire.

"It is better to hold classes under trees than in straw huts, which have become flammable graves for pupils," he said.

Twenty children were burnt to death in a school fire in a working-class district of Niamey in April.

President Mohamed Bazoum recently promised to replace the wooden structures.

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