Officials from Kenya reported that at least 14 primary school students died and dozens more were injured in a stampede as they rushed to leave the classroom.
Authorities have opened an investigation to find out why the children broke into a panic. They were reportedly leaving the campus-based in the town of Kakamega after a day of classes on Monday.
In the wake of the unfortunate event, local police blocked off the school to take statements from the faculty. Some parents hurried to a hospital in the town where the children were taken to the emergency ward.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of Education George Magoha confirmed to Citizen TV that children had died in the incident. “One life (lost) is a life too many,” he said. Most of the children are believed to be grade five students between the ages of 10 to 12.
One grieving mother speculates that the children were running from teachers who allegedly physically abused them as punishment.
“Those who survived said they were running because there were teachers who were beating them, and that is why they were escaping and fell on each other,” she told local media, as per The Guardian. Kenya’s government banned corporal punishment back in 2001.
News outlet The Daily Nation reported the some of the students fell from the third floor of the school’s building.
Red Cross Kenya spokesman Peter Abwao told outlets, “As kids were going home from school there was a stampede as they were going down the stairs. It’s a three-story building, it’s a classroom block.”
Kakamega Primary school has not released a statement regarding the incident.