Student crushed to death in fire alarm stampede at nightclub

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The Independent Online

A student was crushed to death and at least eight other people injured after a stampede at a nightclub.

Revellers rushed for the exits at the Lava & Ignite club in Northampton after being told their buses were leaving. Panic increased after a fire alarm went off, said a witness.

Police said last night that possible over-crowding of the venue was being investigated.

Nabila Nanfuka, 22, a third-year student at the University of Northampton, was killed in the crush in the early hours of yesterday morning. Two others were in a critical condition in Northampton General Hospital last night.

More than 1,300 people are believed to have been in the venue which had been hosting an event that attracts students from around the country, many of whom travel by coach. One of the students, James Adetula, 21, from London, said the crush happened after an announcement telling revellers that their coaches were leaving.

"It was, 'Everybody, the coaches are leaving, make your way to the exits', so everyone went for the exits. Then next minute the fire alarm went off and everyone started panicking," he said. "There was obviously a stampede of people in there when the fire alarm went off."

The family of Ms Nabila, from Neasden in north London, demanded answers about how the tragedy had happened. The club night was the third such event, and Nabila had been to the previous two. She had friends visiting from London, said her younger brother, Fahad Msimbe.

"The circumstances in which it happened were unusual," he said. "She wanted to have a good time with her friends."

Eyewitnesses said the crush occurred at around 3.30am. Police and fire services arrived at the scene shortly after, responding to reports that people were trapped inside the club. Supt Andy Cox said police would investigate whether the fire alarm had been set off. Officers are working with the club, the event organisers, local authorities and emergency services to establish what happened. No one from the nightclub was available to comment yesterday.

The event, Wickedest Wickedest, a hip-hop and R&B night, has been called a "coach rave" because of the numbers of revellers that descend on Northampton from universities elsewhere in the country. Nabila's family yesterday described her as "one in a million" and a "beautiful person".

"She affected so many people's lives and put other people first," said her brother, Fahad. "I still haven't come to terms with the fact she has passed away, it still hasn't sunk in. My mother is torn apart."

A spokeswoman for the University of Northampton commented: "Naturally, we are deeply saddened by this news and our thoughts are with Nabila's family and friends."

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