Thirteen children killed in Kenya primary school stampede
Desks in an empty elementary school classroom (

At least 13 children died and dozens of others were injured in a stampede as they left their primary school in Kenya on Monday, local police said, with investigators still trying to ascertain the cause of the tragedy.

The police have launched an inquiry into what caused the crowd of students to panic, leading to the crush at around 5:00 pm (1400 GMT) at the school in the western town of Kakamega.

But one of the children's mothers blamed the teachers.

"Those who survived said they were running because there were teachers who were beating them, and that is why they were escaping and fell on each other," the mother said in an interview with local media.

She said the children were mostly in grade five, aged between 10 and 12.

Corporal punishment is banned in Kenya.

The Kakamega Primary School did not immediately comment on the incident. In the aftermath of the stampede, the police cordoned off the school and took statements from the teaching staff.

Kakamega's police chief David Kabena said that 13 students had been killed in the stampede.

"We have launched an investigation to establish what exactly happened," he told reporters at the scene of stampede.

Kenya Red Cross said on Twitter that it was setting up psychological support services, as well as a "tracing desk" to help relatives locate potentially affected students.

The Red Cross said that 39 students had been admitted to a local hospital.

St John's Ambulance meanwhile tweeted that at least 14 students had been killed and more than 50 injured, including two who were in an intensive care unit. Some 37 had been treated and discharged from hospital.

The tragedy comes just two days after 20 people were killed in a stampede at an open-air evangelical Christian church service over the border in Tanzania.

In 2016, nine students were killed by a fire at a girls' high school in the Kibera neighbourhood of Kenya's capital Nairobi.