42 students injured after school balcony caves in

Kathmandu, October 23

At least 42 children were injured when a balcony of Bidya Kunja English Boarding School in Tarakeshwor caved in today. The injured, aged between six and 12 years, were admitted to a hospital in Basundhara. One of them suffered serious injuries, while 39 were discharged after first aid.

“Children were watching a football match when the balcony caved in this afternoon. The balcony, which was around nine feet above the ground, was constructed only last year,” Navin Dangol, founder of the school, told THT.

“One of the injured students is said to be critical. Blood has accumulated between her skull and membrane covering her brain. She has already undergone surgery,” said Manish Dawadi, senior hospital manager at Green City Hospital.

Several students have fractured their limbs and have bruises on their faces, arms and bodies. A few of them have fractured both their arms. “Others have cuts on their lips and have swollen fingers and other body parts. This happens when someone falls from a height,” said Bibek Gaurab Singh, medical officer at the hospital.

“Students who were discharged from the hospital have been told to report for a follow-up tomorrow,” added Dawadi.

“The balcony caved in under the weight of students,” said Balaju Metropolitan Police Circle Deputy Superintendent of Police Bal Narsingh Rana.

“I was standing with my friends on the balcony and the football game was about to start. But all of a sudden the balcony collapsed. I, along with my friends, fell down. I can’t remember what happened after that,” said Prabisha Tiwari, 11, who suffered injuries on her head and waist.

“When the balcony collapsed I fell on the ground and injured my nose,” said Umi Phuyal, 9.

“We were standing in the balcony to avoid being hit by football. Suddenly the balcony collapsed. I fell on the ground, got up and went to my classroom. My mother was called later,” said Ritu Aryal, a sixth grader.

Suresh Tamang, 8, whose hand was injured after the fall, recalled that all those who were standing on the balcony fell down.

The school authorities took students to the hospital.

According to Dangol, students of classes II, III, IV, V and VI were standing in the balcony. “A few students of Class I were also there,” he added.

“I got a call from school informing me that my child was in hospital,” said Ram Babu Phuyal, Umi’s father.

“Many of my friends were crying after they fell down. My nose was bleeding after the fall. I ran towards the water tap to clean it,” said Khushi Pariyar, 9, a fourth-grader in the school.

“Safety of school students was compromised. Students deserve complete protection in schools. This is a case of utter negligence on the part of school authorities. School principal should be immediately arrested,” said Jyoti Baniya, chair of Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights-Nepal.

“Structure of school buildings should meet Comprehensive School Safety guidelines. However, there are schools whose buildings have been constructed flouting engineering design principles. To avoid such disasters such schools should be told to ensure that structure of school buildings comply with engineering principles. Safety of students is paramount,” said Deepak Sharma, joint secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.