The fourth-floor hallway was overcrowded and the mood grew tense as the students gathered for a meeting before the incident took place.
Trigger warning: the story contains graphic video footage of death and injury that might be distressing to some readers.
Shocking footage recorded from a college in Bolivia shows the railing of a balcony collapsing and causing the deaths of young students, who fell down four storeys, while others were left gravely injured by the fall.
Moments before the railing gave way, the fourth-floor hallway of the building at the Public University of El Alto (UPEA) was seen overcrowded with students, desperately jostling around for space on Tuesday, March 2. The throng of students reportedly gathered to attend an assembly that was being held at the financial sciences building of the university, located in El Alto outside the country's capital of La Paz.
As the video continues capturing the unusual sight, the footage shows a fight break out between the students standing right at the edge of the metal railing on the over-crowded balcony. It only took a matter of seconds for the worst to happen as a section of the railing soon caved under pressure and collapsed, leading to some of the students plummeting to their death from the fourth floor, as reported by Reuters.
Aged between 19 and 27, around "seven have died and five are in a critical state, some of them stabilized," Health Minister Jayson Auza told reporters, according to Fox News.
The number of victims who lost their lives in the incident may have increased if not for the quick life-saving actions of some students, who were able to grab onto others and stop them from tumbling down to their deaths. The victims' cause of death was deemed to be "multiple defenestration trauma," according to Jhonny Aguilera Montecinos, the Bolivarian Police general commander, as reported by the Daily Mail.
Details shared by local media also revealed that the mood among students was tense at the meeting that day, and this had triggered the scuffle between some of the students leaning against the railing. One of the girls involved in the altercation will reportedly be questioned by the police along with others, Montecinos said. Investigators will also try to find what led to such a massive crowd gathering at the spot all at once.
"Three supervisors will be summoned and they will offer their statement to collaborate in establishing the causes that motivated the massive concentration of university students," added Montecinos, as quoted by The Sun. "After knowing the circumstances, those who identify videos of the security cameras that were already provided to us by the university will be notified."
A statement from the university said, "The university declares mourning for seven days at the Public University of El Alto due to the unfortunate events that occurred on the morning of this day, March 2."
In the wake of the sad incident, the country's president Luis Arce also said, "We regret the tragedy that occurred at the Public University of #ElAlto (UPEA), where there were several deaths and injuries. Our deepest condolences to the people of El Alto and to the suffering families. We await the prompt clarification of the facts."
Cover image source: Yeni Şafak English video/Twitter