By CS Thana
BANGKOK (AA) - Police have retrieved the bodies of 17 girls from a private boarding school in Thailand's north after a fire broke out in their dormitory over night.
The students -- aged between 5 and 12 years old -- were asleep in the two-storey building in Chiang Rai’s Wiang Pa Pao district when the blaze broke out around 11 p.m. Monday (1600GMT).
Police said that it took around an hour to bring the fire under control, and by late Monday morning 17 bodies had been found.
Police Commander Thannayin Thepraksa of Chiang Rai police told Anadolu Agency that a further five students had been sent to hospital, and one girl remained unaccounted for.
"A preliminary investigation has begun," he said.
Officials were unwilling to speculate on its cause.
The school -- Pitakkiet Witthaya -- is affiliated with local Christian charities.
It draws its student population from impoverished hill tribes in the surrounding area.
The school announced on its Facebook page that it would remain closed for the rest of the week.