Disasters & Accidents

7 Die after railing gives way on 4th floor of building in Bolivia

La Paz, Mar 2 (efe-epa).- Seven students died Tuesday after a railing gave way on the fourth floor of a building of the Public University of El Alto (UPEA), Bolivian authorities said.

The railing buckled amid pushing and shoving after a large gathering of students in defiance of pandemic protocols turned contentious.

Police chief Jhonny Aguilera identified the victims as four men and three women ranging in age from 19 to 27. Three people were pronounced dead at the scene, while the others died at hospitals in El Alto, a working-class city neighboring La Paz.

Four other people survived the fall, but remain hospitalized.

The first task for investigators will be determining why the meeting was taking place given that agglomerations of people are prohibited due to Covid-19, Aguilera said.

He said that police are analyzing security-camera videos provided by UPEA that show two women scuffling with one another before one of them fell to her death and plan to interview the second woman, who was rescued by other students.

UPEA issued a statement of regret over the “chance accident” and said that it would conduct an internal probe in parallel with the police investigation.

Videos posted on social media include images of students packed into hallways in UPEA’s business school leading to the conference room where the assembly was taking place.

Bolivian President Luis Arce extended “heartfelt condolences” to the families of the dead and to the people of El Alto and expressed hope that authorities can quickly get to the bottom of what happened. EFE lnm/dr

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