"The school did not acquire a permit to begin its operations but was in the midst of applying for one", fire department's director general said. Police had put the boys' ages at between 13 and 17 on Thursday, and couldn't be reached to explain the discrepancy. There were 519 tahfiz schools registered across the country as of April, but many more are believed to be unregistered, the paper said.
It was in 2015 that 16 people, including eight students, had managed to flee from an early morning fire at a family-run religious school.
Fire department officials said the victims were trapped behind fixed window grilles, while one of the fire exits on the second floor was reportedly blocked for renovations.
Tahfiz schools have been under scrutiny since earlier this year when an 11-year-old boy died after alleged abuse in Johor. Religious schools are not "above the law". "He was in a jovial mood - he loved studying here", he told AFP, adding another of his sons had been "saved" as he had refused to attend the school for the past fortnight. "We have no intention to change or interfere with their teachings".
Muhammad told how he and several other students had tried to quench the fire with water but the blaze was too intense. He said it was the worst fire incident in the past two decades and they are trying to establish the cause of the incident.
"We have not ruled out foul play", Khirudin said, adding that fires in dormitories were typically caused by unattended cooking or mosquito coils.
School principal Mohamad Zahid Mahmod was quoted as saying that the students were being housed in a temporary building because of renovation work at the main school building.
One of the van drivers who is based at Masjid Ibnu Khaldun Sungai Besi said when met that they had not been informed on the location of the burial grounds.
He said the police would also record the statements from the premises owner, as well as other surviving teachers and students soon.
"We have left it to fate". We have to take that responsibility.