By DOROTHY MARK
MORE than 1360 students in an urban school in Madang were traumatised yesterday when two of their classrooms burnt to ashes and police fired gunshots.
Lutheran Day Primary School students were already inside their classrooms and classes had started when the incident occurred at around 9am.
The two classrooms that caught fire were for Grades Five and Seven, both accommodated more than 80 students.
Guise Binas, a Grade Seven student, was the first person to smell smoke somewhere inside the double building and alerted others but his classmates said the smell was coming from some people’s houses nearby.
Binas said not long afterwards, he saw smoke coming out of a window from a small office space between the two classrooms and raised the alarm.
“Then our classroom blackboard burst into flames and we started screaming and running for the door,” he said.
“Some panicked, some fell and others ran over them as the struggled to save what they could.
“Some lost their school bags, books and other personal properties.”
Grade Eight teacher Lodie Akau said she saw smoke from the building opposite her classroom and told her students to save the Grade Five and Seven students. No one was injured.
The students threw stones at firefighters who arrived 20 minutes later, but a policeman stepped in to quell the situation.
Parents were forced out of their homes and work places to retrieve their children.
The fire broke out right after a blackout.
Headmaster Peter Siwi said rooms would be made available to those who lost their classrooms .
By DOROTHY MARK