Five killed, 34 injured in Delhi school stampede (Third Lead)

September 10th, 2009 - 6:06 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 10 (IANS) Five girl students were killed and at least 34 injured in a Thursday morning stampede in a school here following rumours that electric current had leaked into the water in the flooded building after heavy overnight rain, police said.
The incident took place in the Government Senior Secondary School (Class 6-12) in Khajoori Khas in northeast Delhi at around 9 in the morning. The victims were mostly from classes 7, 8, 9 and 10, who had come to the school in pouring rain for their half-yearly examinations.

“Five girls have died and 34 other children have been injured. The injured are undergoing treatment at Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) Hospital,” said Joint Commissioner of Police Dharmendra Kumar told IANS.

Initial reports suggested that the stampede took place as electric current had leaked into the water that had flooded the school following heavy overnight rain. But later several victims and witnessed told police that some boys were teasing the girls, which led to the stampede.

“These reports are not confirmed. We are investigating and trying to find out the exact reason behind the stampede,” a senior police official said.

Hospital authorities said at least five of the injured students are in a “serious condition” and clarified that there were no electrocution injuries.

“There has been no electrocution injury. Some students have suffered injuries to head and some to stomach,” a doctor at GTB hospital said.

Reshma, a student of class VII and a victim, told IANS: “We were on the staircase when boys blocked our way both from front and back. The boys started pushing us and then all of us fell on each other on the stairs. Our teachers rescues us after removing boys from over us,”

“Several of my friends suffered injuries in the incident,” she added.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, however, denied these reports and said: “These are just rumours. The incident took place when some girls were going up the stairs and others were coming down.”

Dikshit visited the hospital along with Health Minister Kiran Walia and Education Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely. She met the injured girls.

Dikshit directed the hospital authorities to take extra care of injured girls and provide better medical facilities to them.

Expressing regret over the tragedy, she ordered an enquiry by the deputy commissioner and promised strict action. The report will be submitted in 2-3 days.

The chief minister also announced payment of Rs.100,000 each to the next-of-kin of those killed and Rs.50,000 to those seriously injured.

Dikshit directed Education Director Chandra Bhushan Kumar to post two deputy directors at the GTB Hospital to look after all medical arrangements of the injured.

Reacting to the incident, leader of opposition in Delhi assembly V.K. Malhotra said: “A proper enquiry should be conducted into the incident and the government should also look at other schools.”

Central Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal said: “The school stampede is a tragedy. Even though it is a state system, it is completely unacceptable. We need to have a system where such tragedies would not happen in future. We express our condolences to the bereaved families.”

Meanwhile, the police have tightened security and have deployed extra men outside the school and at GTB Hospital.

“The area around the school has been cordoned off to avoid any law and order problem in the area,” the police officer added.

Parents and relatives of the injured children thronged the hospital. Some of the parents fell unconscious while anxiously waiting for the news of their children’s well being.

But the parents were not allowed inside the hospital.

“I have the identity card of my daughter who studies in this school but the police are not letting me in. What should I do, I have not got any news about her well being,” said a grieving father, standing outside the hospital.

No official from the school administration was available for comment. Relatives of the students and local residents gathered in front of the school to protest the “negligence on the part of the administration”.

They threw stones, shouted slogans and tried to block the road in front of the school.

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