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14 pupils die in stampede in Kakamega school

Parents and relatives gather outside Kakamega
Parents and relatives gather outside Kakamega Primary School on February 4, 2020 following the tragic death of 14 pupils on the evening of February 3 during a stampede. PHOTO | CAROLINE WAFULA | NMG 

Fourteen pupils died while at least 39 were seriously wounded in a stampede at Kakamega Primary School on Monday.

Some pupils who survived the stampede claimed that a teacher was chasing them to leave the institution after classes in the evening.

However, there has not been an official explanation yet on the cause of the tragedy that left many in shock.

Western Region Police Commander Peris Kimani on Monday said 20 pupils were treated at the county's general and referral hospital and discharged.

Reports indicated that the learners were running out of class at 5pm when the tragedy occurred. It is said that some fell from the third floor of the building.

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Responders, including police and personnel from the Kenya Red Cross Society, went to the school to offer emergency services.

LEADERS RESPOND

Leaders and security chiefs were among those who went to the hospital after receiving reports of the incident.

They included Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Lurambi Member of Parliament Titus Khamala and County Commissioner Pauline Dola.

Governor Oparanya visited the patients in their wards but left without addressing the media.

County head of communication Dickson Rayori said Mr Oparanya would address the media on Tuesday morning.

Mr Khamala and Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali called for thorough investigations into the tragedy by the Ministry of Education and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

Via Twitter, Deputy President William Ruto said: "We are devastated by the tragedy ... our prayers, love and thoughts to the families and relatives of the victims of the misfortune."

Also on the social media platform, Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga sent a condolence message in which he described the incident as "unfortunate and regrettable".

"I wish quick recovery to the injured children and pray that God grants strength to the affected families," he said.

He added: "There must be an immediate and thorough probe to get to the bottom of this incident."

ANXIOUS PARENTS

Some pupils who survived the stampede on Tuesday claimed that a teacher was chasing them to leave the institution after classes in the evening.

However, there has not been an official explanation yet on the cause of the Monday stampede that left many in shock.

Grieving parents of the pupils who died during the stampede on Tuesday morning gathered at the Kakamega County Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary to identify their bodies.

At the same time, other anxious parents assembled at the school from early Tuesday.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang and Kakamega Governor arrived at the school on Tuesday morning to assess the situation.

Also present was Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, former Kakamega senator Dr Boni Khalwale and Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna.

The leaders went into a meeting with senior county security and education officers and the school’s management.

Pupils and their parents were also assembled in the school waiting to be addressed by the officials.

Earlier, the parents had been barred from accessing the school compound and waited anxiously outside the gate.

They were later asked to register with their children's class teachers.

PAST TRAGEDIES

Tragedies that have occurred in schools or affected students in the recent past include fatal accidents, deadly fires and the collapse of structures.

In September 2019, the Education ministry revoked the licences of two primary schools in Nairobi over safety concerns.

Education CS George Magoha closed Precious Talents Top School in Dagoretti and Pama Academy in Kangemi and ordered the affected pupils sent to public schools.

The institutions had substandard structures.

In January, three pupils died after lightning struck them at Mkulima Primary School in Kuresoi North Sub-County.

At least 53 others were admitted to various hospitals in Nakuru County.

Education officials partially closed the school and ordered the learners moved to the neighbouring Murinduko and Kerisoi primary schools, pending renovation of their classrooms.

In September 2017, nine students died while dozens others were injured after a fire burnt down a dormitory at Moi Girls' School Nairobi.

Parents accused the Ministry of Education of laxity in addressing such incidents.

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