At least 400 students of the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania cheated death on Monday after a female hostel caught fire, authorities at the university said.
The fire started at 8.30 a.m. local time, razing at least five rooms in the second floor of the hostel, injuring two female students after they tried to jump from the second floor.
Rwekaza Mukandala, the Vice-Chancellor of Tanzania's leading state-owned university, said all students were vacated to safe areas and they will be given another place for accommodation while the affected hostel was being repaired.
"All the victims, including those whose belongings were razed or stolen during the rescue mission will get support from the university," said Mukandala.
"The university will also assist them in recovering their documents and other valuables that were stolen or burnt by the fire," he said.
He said the fire was put out an hour later by students using water they fetched from the ground floor.
"Although the real cause of fire has not yet been established, we suspect that it was caused by an electric fault. We thank the students who came to rescue and managed to put out the fire," said Mukandala.
"I was still in bed when I heard people shouting along the corridor alerting that there was fire as they ran down stairs to save their lives," said Atuganile Mwambusye, a third year student who was among those whose rooms caught fire and lost all of her belongings.
"When I came out of my room I saw a cloud of smoke that made me fail to see properly. I thank God that I managed to get to the ground floor safely but I could not save anything," she said.
Baraka Seka, a third year student and one of the rescuers, said poor infrastructure and lack of preparedness to handle such accidents lead to massive loss of lives and property in the east African country.
"We would have expected the fire brigade to have arrived here within a short period since the fire started, but it took them more than an hour to reach to the place," said Seka.