Zomba: Four learners at Natchengwa Primary School have died and more than 30 others have sustained injuries of various degrees when the wall of the school block collapsed on them.
The incident happened on Wednesday in the area of Sub Traditional Authority Ngwelero in Zomba district while the learners attending morning lessons.
Deputy Head Teacher at the school, Paul Henry Banda told Malawi News Agency (Mana) that the accident affected Standard 3B which accommodates 116 learners where teachers to administer classes behind the class for learners to get warmth in light of the chilly weather conditions prevailing in the area.
Teachers decided to have classes outside the classroom so that the learners can have warmth from the sun due to the biting chilly weather conditions that have persisted since Monday, he said.
Banda explained that while classes were still in progress a heavy wind blew off the roof of the classroom which forced one of the walls to collapse, falling on the learners in the process.
The Deputy Head Teacher added that four learners died on the spot, noting that following the accident, parents and community members rushed to the school to help rescue and evacuate the children to the nearby Ngwelero Health Centre while others were taken to Mayaka Health Centre.
Officer In Charge for Zomba Police Station, Hasten Mathankie confirmed the development saying four learners died on the spot while more than 30 others have been referred to Zomba Central Hospital for treatment after sustaining injuries in the accident.
He said the total number of injuries was yet to be established because assessment was in progress to find out the number of learners who were referred to Mayaka and Ngwelero Health Centre, respectively.
Mathankie added that after receiving report of the accident, the police worked together with the District Health Office through Zomba District Council who sent ambulances to ferry all the affected learners to Zomba Central Hospital.
A visibly shocked Standard 3 class teacher, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, told Mana that he believed that the incident happened due to the heavy wind which was blowing resulting to collapsing of the wall.
One of the parents whose children has been seriously injured said some parents preferred to refer their children to Ngwelero Health Centre which is too far compared to Mayaka because Ngwelero is government owned facility while Mayaka belongs to Christian Hospitals Association of Malawi.
However, Mana has independently established that the wall of the school block which has caused the accident was constructed last year using mud under the School Improvement Grant. Meanwhile, Zomba District Health Office in collaboration with Zomba police is on the ground establishing the total number of affected learners.
Source: Malawi News Agency MANA