At least seven children have died after a classroom collapsed at a primary school in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, officials say.
The wooden structure at Precious Talent Top School collapsed just minutes after the start of the school day yesterday.
Dozens of people were injured and have been taken to hospital in the city. Emergency services are at the scene.
Rescuers have reportedly had difficulty getting to the school because of the large crowds that have gathered nearby.
“We have regrettably lost seven lives to this morning’s incident,” Education Secretary George Magoha told reporters outside the school in Dagoretti. He added that 64 people had been injured.
The school’s director, Moses Ndirangu, blamed the collapse on the construction of a nearby sewer, which he said may have weakened the foundations of the building.
But a Nairobi-based architect, Professor Alfred Omenya, told the BBC that the school was poorly built and was a “disaster waiting to happen”.
The collapse happened shortly before 07:00 local time (04:00 GMT) and dozens of children were rushed away from the scene.
The Kenyan Red Cross transferred some children to the Kenyatta National Hospital. Two of the injured were reported to be in a critical condition.
The first floor of the building collapsed and trapped the children below, local politician John Kiarie told the NTV Kenya television channel.
Angry locals complained about the slow emergency response. The government said it had opened an investigation into the cause of the accident.
Images on social media showed hundreds of residents gathered around the site as rescuers search through the rubble. Books, desks and chairs could be seen amongst the debris.
“I had just dropped my son to school and heard screams on my way back,” Margaret Muthoni, whose four-year-old son was injured, told the AFP news agency.
“I am just lucky my son survived,” she said.
The private school is located near Nairobi’s well-known Ngong Racecourse and more than 800 pupils are thought to attend. Private schools are preferred to state schools by Nairobi residents, who consider them superior.
Free primary school education, introduced by the Kenyan government in 2003, suffers from overcrowding and poor morale among teachers.
As a result, the number of private schools has increased markedly, from 7,742 in 2014 to 16,594 this year, official figures show. -BBC