Entry at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) was restricted to those who had bought passes. A local government official said a single gate was being used for both entry and exit.
The stampede began when it started raining, and those waiting outside rushed into the auditorium to take shelter. Some students slipped and fell on the steps leading to the gate and were trampled by the crowd.
Four students, two boys and two girls, were declared dead upon arrival at hospital, officials said.
At least 64 other students sustained injuries and were undergoing treatment at various hospitals.
Kerala’s chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan offered his condolences and said a thorough investigation into the circumstances of the stampede would be carried out.
An outreach programme of his party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), in which celebratory and artistic events were scheduled, would be cancelled in view of the tragedy, he said after an emergency meeting on Saturday with his ministers.
“The entire state is in shock over the stampede that unfolded at CUSAT University in Ernakulam,” he wrote on X.
“Heartfelt condolences go out to the family members of the four students who lost their lives. Immediate and enhanced treatment facilities have been arranged for the injured.
“A thorough investigation into the incident will commence without delay,” he said.
Nikhita Gandhi, the Bollywood singer who was due to perform, said on Instagram that she was “heartbroken and devastated by what took place this evening in Kochi”.
“Such an unfortunate incident took place before I could even leave for the venue for the performance,” she said in an Instagram story.
“No words are possibly enough to express this profound grief. My prayers go out to the families of the students.”
A local municipal councillor, identified only as Pramod, told news agency ANI that the stampede occurred because one gate was used for both entry and exit.
“Exit and entrance through the same gate led to the stampede,” he said.
“Students were trying to enter through the same gate.
“Students who were entering through the steep steps fell down first and the huge crowd at the gate stomped on them again and again.”
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