The blaze near the capital Monrovia killed at least 27 people, many of whom are thought to be children, police say.

A burned-out mosque smoulders in the Paynesville area of the Liberian capital Monrovia on October 29, 2004. (File photo)
A burned-out mosque smoulders in the Paynesville area of the Liberian capital Monrovia on October 29, 2004. (File photo) (AP)

A fire at a Quranic school outside Liberia's capital has killed at least 27 people and many are thought to be children, police said on Wednesday.

The fire around midnight gutted a dormitory and school building where students slept about 11 kilometres east of Monrovia, police spokesman Moses Carter said. 

Only the imam and two students escaped, he said. The blaze was electrical, he said, adding the cause of the fire was under investigation.

Hundreds of grief-stricken people stood in shock as ambulances took away the bodies. Others wailed and wept as police pushed back a curious, surging crowd.

Carter had originally said 30 children were killed before revising the death toll down to 27 people, most of whom were thought to be children. Two of the survivors were taken to the hospital, he said.

The fire started late on Tuesday in the suburbs of the capital Monrovia, President George Weah said in a tweet.

"My prayers go out to the families of the children that died last night in Paynesville City," Weah said. "This is a tough time for the families of the victims and all of Liberia."

The fire struck while the children were asleep, said Fulani community official Amadou Sherrif.

Relatives on Wednesday gathered outside the yellow and green entrance to the building, which housed a school and boarding school, whose sheet metal roof was burnt.

It is common for buildings to collapse in blazes linked to faulty electrics in Liberia's big cities, however, these are rarely deadly. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies