Four students, including two women, lost their lives in a tragic incident of stampede during a festival held at Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) in Kerala on Saturday night.
The unfortunate incident was apparently caused by the rain, which led the crowd to hurriedly entering the auditorium where singer Nikhita Gandhi was performing.
Around 50 other individuals were reportedly hurt and admitted to the hospital, with four of them said to be in critical condition.
“Entry to the programme was restricted to pass-holders. But students and others who didn’t have such passes had also gathered on the campus,” a CUSAT faculty member said.
According to a witness, as the auditorium became more crowded, some individuals stumbled and fell down the stairs that led to the hall. Additionally, more people fell on top of those who were already lying on the floor. The witness also noted that the situation was exacerbated by the absence of multiple exits.
ADGP Ajith Kumar and city police commissioner A. Akbar stated that the event organizers had failed to inform them about the event.
Three individuals who passed away were recognized as Athul Thampi, Ann Rufta, and Sarah Thomas. They were all students at CUSAT. The fest, Dhishna, concluded on Saturday and attracted students from various technical colleges in the state.
ADGP Kumar stated that the size of the auditorium suggested that it could accommodate between 1,000 and 1,500 people. “It seems like a freak accident since there is no reason for it to happen here in normal cases. The auditorium was only partly filled inside and the crowd outside was also not that big,” said ADGP Kumar.
The injured were quickly taken to both Ernakulam Government Medical College and a private hospital located in the city.
Health minister Veena George said “Surgical interventions are the need of the hour. A team of surgeons from neighbouring districts has been mobilised and brought to Ernakulam Medical College."
CM Pinarayi Vijayan conducted an urgent meeting at a government guest house in Kozhikode following the tragedy and expressed his condolences for the students' deaths. He also assigned ministers P Rajeev and R Bindhu to quickly go to the Kalamassery campus and oversee the implementation of different measures.
According to the Vice-Chancellor of CUSAT, PG Sankaran, the event has not taken place in the last three years because of the pandemic. The university campus is situated near a bustling national highway that connects to the airport and other important roads. “Motorists and passers-by reached the campus to catch a glimpse of the event,” an eyewitness said.