Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi with some of the survivors of the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school fire. After visiting the victims' family members at the Disaster Victim Identification unit at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital here today, Zahid said management and administrative policies in schools were set as part of preventive measures. Pix by Rosdan Wahid

KUALA LUMPUR: The fire which took the lives of 23 individuals at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school in Datuk Keramat here should serve as an important lesson on fire preventive measures, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

After visiting the victims' family members at the Disaster Victim Identification unit at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital here today, he said management and administrative policies in schools were set as part of preventive measures.

"Prevention is better than cure. The policies set would help deter such tragic incidents," he told a press conference at the Kuala Lumpur hospital here today.

He called for an immediate task force to be established to look into preventive measures.

"I have offered myself to head and coordinate this with other ministries, departments and agencies to establish the immediate task force."

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam had earlier said the matter would be discussed in cabinet, which meets next Wednesday.

Zahid however said the task force should not have wait until the cabinet decides, but should be established immediately.

He also added that the government will aid the families with the funeral rites and bear the entire burial cost.

"We will help in the best way we can, including giving psychological trauma treatment to the survivors and the victims’ families," he said.

He also revealed that the identification process of the victims has begun, and the victims’ remains will be released to their families once the process is completed.

Zahid further stated that the cause of the incident is still being investigated.

"I have discussed this matter with city police chief Datuk Amar Singh and the Fire and Rescue Department director-general.

"A thorough investigation is being carried out and they will furnish us with the details upon completion of the investigation," he added.

Earlier today in Sibu, Zahid expressed sadness over the fire incident and said according to preliminary report, the operator of the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school was never registered with the Education Ministry.

He said checks are being conducted to ascertain if the centre had been registered with the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council, Yayasan Pondok Malaysia or Yayasan Pintar.

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