Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was present at the launch of the National Community College Community Dental Health Program 2017 at Sekolah Menengah Sains Bagan Datuk. Pic by NSTP/ABDULLAH YUSOF

BAGAN DATUK: The Deputy Prime Minister today gave his assurance that if arson is the cause of the fire at Darul Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz school, the culprit behind it will feel the full brunt of the law.

The 5.15am fire in Keramat on Thursday, claimed the lives of 21 students and two teachers after they were trapped in the building.

“This is about the loss of lives...," Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters after launching the national-level Community College Dental Health Programme at Sekolah Menengah Sains Bagan Datuk here today.

He said even if there are differences in opinions and interests, people should not use it as an excuse or reason to take a human life.

“God’s willing… If there is a suspect who committed this crime or anyone for that matter...That person will not escape the law. I assure you this," he said.

Also present at the event was Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya.

Zahid, who is also Home Minister, was asked to comment on traces of petrol found on the second floor of the tahfiz school as reported in the New Straits Times yesterday.

It was reported the fuel traces were found in front of the door of the dormitory and believed to be the reason that the fire had spread quickly.

“The police’s Forensic Department and Criminal Investigations Department are looking at all possibilities as well as angles of possible criminal element in this case.

“They are scrutinising the closed-circuit camera television (CCTV) and collecting some footages. I urge the people not to speculate and spread any video as authorities are investigating it,” he said.

Zahid said he would chair a task force meeting this Tuesday to further discuss the incident.

“I have listed ministers and directors from various agencies to join the meeting and we will sit down together to discuss this incident.

“At the meeting, we will also look at recommendations by a previous Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) that was set up to investigate the fire that killed 27 students of Sekolah Agama Rakyat Taufikiah Alhalimiah (Pondok Pakya),” he added.

Zahid said he hoped that such tragedy would not recur and urged all private tahfiz schools in the country to register with the respective state Islamic Departments.

It was reported on Thursday that 23 people including 21 students and two wardens of the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Centre at Jalan Keramat Ujung, Kuala Lumpur were killed after their dormitory caught fire.

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