Turkish school explosion leaves 17 dead
Balcilar (Turkey), August 2, 2008
A gas explosion killed at least 17 girls and injured 27 others, wrecking a dormitory at a school in southern Turkey on Friday, a military rescue official said.
Several girls were feared trapped under the rubble of the three-storey building in Balcilar village in the Toros mountain range, some 340 kilometres south of the capital Ankara.
"We have been informed that 16 students died and 27 were injured. We think that there are still four or six more children under the rubble," Interior Minister Besir Atalay said.
Later a military rescue official, who declined to be named, told Reuters that the death toll had risen to 17.
Around 50 people, female students and teachers, were in the building when it collapsed like a house of cards from the gas explosion, local residents told Reuters.
Girls from eight to 16 were using the dormitory while they took part in a course of Islamic study.
Merve Avci, a 13-year-old headscarved student who suffered slight injuries, told reporters she had smelled gas coming from downstairs to the upper floors, and then felt the explosion.
"I was in the part of the building which didn't collapse with five of my friends immediately after the explosion, and we felt flames rising from the downstairs to upper floors," she said, according to Anatolian news agency.-Reuters