Five pupils killed in school stampede

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Hundreds of students jammed into a narrow school staircase panicked and set off a stampede today that left at least five pupils dead and another 24 injured, a New Delhi hospital official said.

Five of the injured were in critical condition, said O.P. Kalra, medical superintendent of the Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, where the injured students were taken.

The stampede occurred early in the school day as students arrived for an exam, Kalra told reporters. The Press Trust of India news agency said the stampede was set off by rumors about an electrical short-circuit in the government-run school. The students were from age 8-16, police said.

Parents gathered outside the school after the incident, wailing in anguish. A few threw rocks at the building, news reports said.

A government investigation has been ordered into the stampede, said Sheila Dikshit, New Delhi's top official.