Varsity student dies, 141 hurt after terrorist scare
One student died while 141 others were injured in a dawn stampede on Sunday sparked by an explosion in a hostel at the Kikuyu Campus of the University of Nairobi.
Of the injured, 99 were admitted, most of them at the Kenyatta National Hospital, while the others were treated and discharged.
An electricity fault in the hostel’s main supply station caused several “gunshot-like” explosions that sparked panic among students who feared that they had been attacked by gunmen.
Some of the casualties jumped from as high as the 6th floor of Kimberly Hostels in an attempt to flee from what they thought was a terrorist attack in the campus.
This comes 10 days after four gunmen shot dead 148 people at the Garissa University College in a dawn attack that has been condemned across the world and led the Pope to speak out against the persecution of Christians.
“We have confirmed that it was not a terror attack,” said Prof Peter Mbithi, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nairobi.
“This was a reaction by scared students who thought they were fleeing from terrorists. The power fault caused the transformer to explode, forcing students into panic after more than three successive blasts.”
He said that 99 of the 141 casualties were at the Kenyatta National Hospital, where five are said to be in critical condition.
At least 54 students were taken to the Kikuyu Mission Hospital, which is near the campus and 50 of them were treated and discharged.
The male student who died had been taken to the Karen hospital together with one other critically injured colleague.
“We have lost one student who was a third year Bachelor of Education student. The body is at the Chiromo mortuary,” said Prof Mbithi.
The victim was identified as 24-year-old Francis Maina. He is suspected to have sustained internal head injuries.
Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga sent their condolences to the family of the victim and wished the injured a quick recovery.
CLIMATE OF FEAR
Mr Odinga said the climate of fear that has engulfed the country must be dealt with.
“This tragedy indicates the magnitude of the problem we are facing as a nation. A climate of fear and uncertainty is gripping our country. We have to deal with this as a matter of urgency,” he said in a statement to newsrooms.
“Everything must be done to reassure the public that they have nothing to fear and their security is guaranteed, if we are to avoid tragedies like the one witnessed at the University of Nairobi.”
A message sent to our newsroom by Mr Ruto’s spokesman, Mr David Mugonyi, said the Deputy President had asked the public to remain calm.
“We have put in place mechanisms to protect our institutions of higher learning and there shouldn’t be panic or fear around the country,” said Mr Ruto.
The Kenya Power chief executive, Dr Ben Chumo, visited the campus on Sunday and said an underground power cable near the students’ hostels exploded because it was overloaded.
“We will increase the capacity of the transformer to help cater for the amount of energy being consumed by the campus and at the same time commence inspection in other campuses,” he said.
He also apologised to the students for the outage and scare.
Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang visited the injured at KNH.
“We are sorry that this incident had to happen, but we want to confirm that it was not a terror attack. We have received a report from the hospital that many of the students affected are stable,” he said.
The KNH Chief Executive Officer, Ms Lily Koros, said there were five seriously injured students admitted at the hospital. The others had soft tissue injuries.