KUALA LUMPUR: "I heard their screams and cries but I could not do anything. The fire was too strong for me to do anything," said Nurhayati Abdul Halim who witnessed the early morning blaze at Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz Centre that killed at least 24 people.
"After 20 minutes of cries, their voices slowly faded."
Nurhayati who lives opposite the school at Kampung Keramat said she heard their cries around 5am and immediately had her son-in-law called the fire rescue department.
"I saw their little hands reaching out from the windows; crying for help.
"My in-laws rushed inside the school, but nothing could be done," said Nurhayati who broke down as she related the horror.
"These boys are just like my children. I see them everyday and it breaks my heart that I could not do anything."
"The fire spread too fast and since the entrance and exit were at the same place, the boys were trapped inside.
"Some of them who were rescued, were at my place before the ambulance brought them to the hospital," she said.
She said the school had been operating here for the past year.