NEW DELHI — Hundreds of children who were jammed into a narrow school staircase panicked and set off a stampede that left five girls dead and 31 students injured in India's capital.
Five of the injured were in critical condition, said O.P. Kalra, medical superintendent of Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital in East Delhi, where the children were taken.
The stampede occurred early Thursday as students arrived for an exam, Kalra told reporters.
Amod Kanth, a well-known child rights activist, said the students were told to move to a higher floor because heavy rain was causing flooding on the ground floor. The stampede occurred when students moving up the stairs met others rushing down.
The students ranged in age from 8 to 16, police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said.
By midday, police had sealed off the school. At the hospital, grieving parents were waiting to take home the bodies of their children.
"We rushed to the hospital and we found her dead," said a weeping woman who gave only the name of her dead daughter, Aishya Khatun, 12.
A government investigation has been ordered.