Two girls' schools in Makkah with a total of 1,196 students were saved from another fire tragedy on Sunday when the school managements quickly evacuated the buildings immediately after two short circuits at the school complex were reported, a Saudi daily said yesterday.

Ibtihaj Hassan Ulfy, director of the Primary Girls' School No. 17 in Makkah, ordered the evacuation of schoolgirls "soon after finding the short circuits in a bid to prevent a repeat of last week's school fire tragedy," in which 15 schoolgirls perished and 52 others injured in a school in the Makkah area, said Arab News, the Jeddah-based daily.

The school director also informed parents of the incident and urged them to take their children back home.

The Intermediate Girls' School No. 24, which operates in the same complex, also witnessed a similar incident as short circuit was reported in the teachers' room, the same newspaper said.

The primary school has 573 schoolgirls and 36 teachers and administrators, while the intermediate school has 623 schoolgirls and 47 teachers and administrators.

Two Civil Defence rescue units and three Red Crescent Society teams rushed to the schools after the incidents were reported. Two medical teams sent by the health department also took part in the operation. A number of police officers were present to control the traffic.

The two schools, added Arab News, are closed for the time being, as the institutes are undergoing a thorough check by the Civil Defence officers to ensure safety measures are in place.

Last week's school fire has triggered a nationwide campaign against unsafe school buildings. A committee has been set up in Riyadh to check the security situation of all schools in the region.

Prince Neyef bin Abdulaziz, Saudi Minister of Interior, on Monday defended the Commission for Promoting Virtue and Preven-ting Vice for its alleged role in blocking Civil Defence personnel from rescuing the schoolgirls.

"Newspapers had rushed to report news which turns out to be untrue," Arab News quoted Prince Nayef as saying.