Page last updated at 07:53 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 08:53 UK

Delhi school stampede kills five


Parents rushed to the school to hear the news

At least five girls have been killed in a stampede at a state-run school in a crowded area of the Indian capital, Delhi, police and doctors say.

The stampede in Khajuri Khas area also injured 24 students. Doctors say five of them are in a critical condition.

Officials said the stampede took place when a group of girl students, who tried to run down a narrow staircase, collided into a group of boys going up.

The school is waterlogged following a night of heavy rains in Delhi.

Earlier reports said the stampede was sparked by rumours that electric current had entered water due to a short-circuit.

But it has now emerged that the deaths occurred when students became jammed into a narrow school staircase.

"The exams were about to start when suddenly some boys came inside. They pushed us and then we came out. We were coming down the staircase when the stampede took place," student Sanjana Gautam told the Press Trust of India news agency.

The wounded have been taken to Guru Teg Bahadur hospital.

The state authorities have ordered an inquiry into the incident.

"About 40 children were being moved from one section of the school to another," news agency AFP quoted a police officer at the Khajuri Khas police station as saying.

Police have cordoned off the area and a huge crowd of anxious parents and local people has gathered outside the school.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit visited the injured children in the hospital.

OP Kalra, medical superintendent at the Guru Teg Bahadur hospital, said five of the injured students were critical.

He said the stampede occurred on a staircase in the school building.

The girls were writing an exam when they were asked to evacuate, Mr Kalra said and added that there were 1,300 to 1,400 students in the school at the time.

Angry relatives of students said there were only five to six teachers to evacuate the students.

The BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi says most government-run schools in India have poor infrastructure and they lack adequate staff.

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