A nine-year-old girl died after a snake bit her inside her school’s classroom in Sulthan Bathery town of Wayanad district on Wednesday, the Hindustan Times reported. The girl’s classmates alleged that although teachers were alerted about the bite, they dismissed it as a casual wound.

The child, a Class 5 student of the government school was sitting in her classroom when the snake purportedly came out of a hole in the floor and bit her. The authorities were alerted at 3.10 pm, however the child was not taken to the hospital till around 3.50 pm, the girl’s classmates alleged.

However, the school’s headmaster claimed she was taken to a nearby hospital around 4.09 pm, Malayala Manorama reported. The girl began to vomit around 4.50 pm, after which doctors referred her to the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital, located nearly two-and-a-half hours away.

“Enroute, she felt uneasy and was taken to the Vythiri Taluk hospital, where doctors advised us to take her to another hospital nearby, but she died on the way,” the headmaster said. Dr Jackson Thomas said the girl had died before she reached the hospital.

Parents of the students studying at the school claimed there were many cracks and holes in the classrooms of the government-run school that were ideal spots for reptiles. They said several complaints about them had been in vain.

A teacher, identified as Shijil, was suspended, and the Wayanad District Collector Adeela Abdullah has asked the district education officer and the school to submit a report on the incident. The state’s Education Minister C Raveendranath ordered an investigation into the child’s death.

Meanwhile, Congress MP from Wayanad Rahul Gandhi wrote to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, saying that a “promising life was tragically cut short at a place of learning”, NDTV reported. “The absence of a conducive learning environment demoralises students and parents alike,” Gandhi wrote. “Given that the State of Kerala has been a pioneer in establishing quality public schools, I request the state government and the general education department to conduct an infrastructure audit of public schools in Wayanad parliamentary constituency.”

He also appealed to the state government to form an action plan for the infrastructure of the school where the incident took place. Gandhi offered support for the school’s makeover and urged the government to provide compensation for the girl’s family.

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