A musical night that ended on a tragic note

According to eyewitness accounts, the crowd surged in different directions, and people lost their footing, causing a domino effect. People fell and knocked others down, piling one person on to another, while the others tried to scale over the flight of steps to the exit and got trapped

November 26, 2023 12:55 am | Updated 10:19 am IST - KOCHI

The scene outside the Ernakulam Medical College Hospital after the stampede at Cusat on Saturday.

The scene outside the Ernakulam Medical College Hospital after the stampede at Cusat on Saturday. | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

The chaos erupted from the narrow gateway to the open auditorium. Just half an hour after the deadly stampede at the venue of the tech fest at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) on Saturday evening, the open auditorium where the event was held resembled a war zone. Piles of unclaimed footware and water bottles lay strewn all around.

Eyewitness accounts said the crowd, mostly in their teens, surged in different directions, and people lost their footing, causing a domino effect. People fell and knocked others down, piling one person on to another, while the others tried to scale over the flight of steps to the exit and got trapped.

The crowd outside the Ernakulam Medical College Hospital following the Cusat incident.

The crowd outside the Ernakulam Medical College Hospital following the Cusat incident. | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

Witnesses said the mayhem centred on a stairway leading up to the open auditorium. Some people were trying to climb over the steps as others tried to get down, causing panic and mass confusion.

“People fell over one another. It was difficult to figure out whose leg or arms were tangled with whose,” said an eyewitness, who was part of the tech fest organising committee. The youngster, still shaking with the memory of what he saw, could not complete his conversation and left wailing.

As to what triggered the stampede is yet to be confirmed officially. Eyewitnesses, however, attributed it to a sudden rush of crowds following heavy rains. The entry to the event, a music concert by Bollywood singer Nikitha Gandhi, was restricted. But the surging crowd threw the event management plans into complete disarray and people panicked.

Vice-Chancellor P.G. Sankaran said the entry was restricted to the participants of the tech fest. Those with identity cards of the event were permitted to enter. Students from nearby colleges, who were participating in some events, were also present at the venue, he added.

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