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NEW YORK: Three Malaysian students saved themselves in the nick of time from a fire at the 56-unit South Meadow Apartments in Ames city, Iowa, about 1,900km from here, early Sunday.
Mohamad Khairi Zulkarnian, Mohd Aminuddin Hamid and Mohd Khairi Ismail, all 21 and second-year engineering students at Iowa State University, ran out of their apartment unit taking with them only their wallets and mobile phones during the 6 am fire.
Fourteen other Malaysian students staying in the apartments were back home on vacation or were on a tour in the United States.
Mohamed Khairi told Bernama by telephone that they were rudely awakened from sleep by loud knocking on their door.
They just grabbed their wallets and mobile phones and rushed out of the apartment unit, he said, adding that their passports were destroyed in the fire.
Mohamad Khairi said their unit was the worst-affected.
He said the three of them had engaged in a joint study session, and Mohd Khairi, who lived elsewhere, had joined him at his apartment over the last few days while a roommate Hazwan Izzudin had returned home to Malaysia for the holidays.
Iowa State Daily.com reported that about 100 people living in the 56 units of the South Meadow Apartments were displaced, but no one was injured or killed in the fire.
The news portal said the fire is believed to have started at a garage located beneath the apartments, in the southeast corner of the H-shaped apartment complex.
The news report, quoting Susan Gwiasda, the public relations officer for the city of Ames, said the fire was contained by 9 am Sunday, but the fire-fighters were at the scene all day to watch for hotspots. -- BERNAMA