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Kerala: Four families mourn children lost in CUSAT festival stampede

November 27, 2023

With tearful and desolate expressions, the four families are grappling with profound grief after losing their children in a stampede at Cochin University’s annual tech festival just a day ago. Of the four victims, three—Athul Thampi (23), Sara Thomas (19), and Ann Rifta Roy (20)—were students at the School of Engineering in Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT). The fourth, Alwin from Palakkad, was an electrician who happened to be at the festival by chance.

The tragic news of their children’s deaths came unexpectedly to the parents when the names of the victims were flashed on TV channels. Frantically attempting to reach their children by phone, the panic-stricken parents were met with disbelief and shock. Some sought information through relatives or friends, while others received calls later confirming the tragic news.

Alwin’s father, visibly grappling with the loss, mentioned that Alwin was an electrician struggling to find good job opportunities and likely went to Kochi in search of employment. Sara’s father, who was recovering from a snake bite, learned about Sara’s death through a call after the news flashed on TV.

Similar stories unfolded for Athul Thampi and Ann Rifta Roy. Athul, a second-year student in the Division of Civil Engineering, SoE, hailed from Koothattukulam, while Ann, a second-year student in the Division of Electronics and Communication, was from North Paravur. The devastating news reached their families through TV announcements, leaving them in shock.

The homes of the deceased saw an outpouring of people offering condolences and paying their respects. Sara’s body was placed at her school in Thamarassery, Kozhikode district, for friends and relatives to bid their final farewells.

While Athul and Alwin were laid to rest, Sara’s funeral was scheduled for Monday morning, and Ann’s funeral was planned for Tuesday.

The condition of two other injured students, Sheba and Geethanjali, remains critical, as confirmed by both CUSAT and a Health Department bulletin. The tragic incident prompted CUSAT to organize a condolence meeting, postponing classes and examinations. State Industries Minister P Rajeev announced plans to revise and update existing guidelines for large public events to prevent such accidents in the future.

In the stampede, four people lost their lives, and 60 others were injured before singer Nikita Gandhi was set to perform at a musical festival in the open-air auditorium of CUSAT.

Source: PTI

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