One student killed, 141 hurt in campus ‘terror’ stampede

One student died and 141 others were injured in a stampede at the University of Nairobi’s Kikuyu campus on Sunday 12 April after a transformer exploded, the result of an electrical fault that caused an underground cable to burst.

According to Vice-chancellor Professor Peter Mbithi, students jumped from hostels to the ground after the 4.00am incident, mistaking the explosion from the transformer for a terrorist attack by al-Shabaab Islamist militants.

“About 100 students were admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital, while the rest were being treated at other hospitals in the city,” said Mbithi.

Confirming the incident, Nairobi police boss Benson Kibue told a press conference that the students were injured when they tried to escape from hostels.

“They thought they were under attack. It was very early in the morning and the situation was made worse by the blackout caused by the major electrical fault,” said Kibue.

According to Hezron Onyango, a third year bachelor of education student, some students jumped from the sixth floor of their hostels to the ground, sustaining serious injuries.

“As soon as the explosion occurred, there was total blackout on the campus and we were scared that we were under attack from al-Shabaab and started jumping out from our hostels,” Onyango told University World News at Kenyatta National Hospital.

Onyango explained that most students avoided running down the stairs, as they thought militants would be waiting for them on the ground floor. “Many chose to jump through the windows,” said Onyango, who sustained minor injury.

Commenting on the incident at Kikuyu campus, opposition politician Raila Odinga urged the government to act quickly and reassure the public that they have nothing to fear.

“A climate of fear and uncertainty is gripping our country and everything must be done if we are to avoid tragedies like the one witnessed at the University of Nairobi,” said Odinga.

The stampede occurred less than two weeks after 148 people died, including 142 students, at Garissa University College following a 2 April dawn attack by al-Shabaab militants.