Cochin University Tech Fest stampede kills four students, over 60 injured

Kochi: Four students were killed, and over 60 were injured in a stampede during Cochin University annual festival here on Saturday night, police said.

Officials said that the stampede occurred before well-known singer Nikita Gandhi was to perform for a musical festival in the open-air auditorium of Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) here.

Four students, including two boys and two girls, lost their lives, while over 60 others are undergoing treatment at Kalamassery Medical College Hospital and some other hospitals nearby, according to State Health Minister Veena George.

George mentioned that four more students were in critical condition.

ADGP M R Ajith Kumar stated that the audience rushed to the auditorium using the stairs when there was a sudden downpour, leading to a stampede and subsequent deaths.

“It was an annual festival, and from the brochure, we understood that it was held from November 24 to November 26. The musical event was organised at an auditorium with a capacity of 1,000 to 1,500 people.

“It was partially filled. But when the rains lashed suddenly, the students rushed through the stairs, leading to the tragedy,” Kumar told reporters.

While initial reports suggested that the stampede occurred during the Nikitha Gandhi musical performance, officials later said that the singer had not begun her performance when the tragedy struck.

“The entry to the program was restricted to ticket holders. However, several local residents were also outside the auditorium during the musical show,” an eyewitness told the media.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held an emergency meeting at a government guest house in Kozhikode in the wake of the tragedy and condoled the death of students.

Vijayan, who chaired the meeting, later announced that they canceled all cultural and art events planned in connection with the ongoing Nava Kerala Sadas program in the northern district on Sunday.

He also deputed ministers P Rajeev and R Bindhu to rush to the campus in Kalamassery to coordinate various measures.

In a statement, the CM also directed to ensure treatment to all injured and said that George would coordinate steps in this regard.