SIBU: Twelve-year-old Maxtyan Bruce was among the lucky ones who managed to flee the burning SK Iban Union hostel on Friday night.
But the Year Six pupil, who was pulled out from bed by his teacher, is in deep sorrow because his sister Rozinie Dinah was among the five pupils who perished in the fire.
“I last saw Rozinie (a Year One pupil) when we studied together from 7pm to 8.30pm that night,” he said yesterday.
Maxtyan also lost a cousin – Benny Engkamat, seven – in the tragedy. They were all from Rumah Chuat, which is a five-minute walk from the school.
Rozinie and Benny's remains were found in their hostel room. Both had entered the school barely five days ago.
Maxtyan’s mother Misi Limping and Benny’s mother Pala Limping are sisters.
Benny’s brother Donny, 17, said Benny was the youngest among four siblings. Donny, a contract worker, said their father died seven months ago. Their mother works as a clerk at a bus station in Bintulu.
The others who died were Nirol Paing and Caroline Meruda (from Rumah Lasit), both seven, and Rosemera Keram, nine, from Rumah Mambang.
Nirol stayed in the hostel with her cousin Rabia Yot Dayong, who lost him while they were trying to run for safety. Rabia escaped unhurt.
Teacher Dang Bugak, 38, said he managed to pull out five pupils before the fire spread to the boys’ hostel, which is separated from the girls’ hostel by a partition.
He said there were 23 boys and 13 girls in the hostel when the fire was said to have started from the matron's room next to the girls’ hostel.
Rumah Chuat headman Chuat Jimmy said he and other villagers rushed to the hostel to help put out the fire when they were alerted at 10.30pm.