Deadly shooting at US university
The campus has now been closed and students evacuated
At least 31 people have been killed and 10 injured after a gunman went on the rampage at the campus of Virginia Tech university in Virginia, US.
Police say there were two separate shooting incidents - at West Ambler Johnston Hall, a student dormitory, and Norris Hall, an engineering building.
The incidents were about two hours apart. Police say they believe there was one gunman and that he is dead.
It is the deadliest shooting at a US educational facility.
The state university in the town of Blacksburg is home to 26,000 students.
“We have a ballpark figure on fatalities. It’s at least 20 fatalities,” Virginia Tech police chief Wendell Flinchum said.
Click here to see a map of Virginia Tech campus
Speaking at a news conference, Mr Flinchum said that emergency services had received a call at 0715 (1215 GMT) alerting them to a multiple shooting at West Ambler Johnston Hall.
He said that two hours later there was a second report of shooting, this time at Norris Hall.
One of my friends was in one of the classrooms where the shooting occurred and the scene he described was utter chaos. It sounded like a scene from a movie, something that you watch but never expect to happen to you
‘Total shock’ on campus
E-mail witness accounts
Eyewitnesses locked down inside the university buildings have been using the internet to try to glean information about what is happening and many have emailed the BBC News website:
“The scene here is just surreal. Watching the TV and looking at the web-pages, you know that all of this is happening on your campus, but you don’t fully realize that it is actually happening; especially as a student,” one e-mailer called Brandon said.
“One of my friends was in one of the classrooms where the shooting occurred and the scene he described was utter chaos. It sounded like a scene from a movie, something that you watch but never expect to happen to you, or to anyone that you know,” he added.
Nicola, an Irish student on her first day of an exchange at the university, wrote “This is unbelievable. Find it hard to believe that 20 people can really be dead. Sitting in dorms right now, waiting for further news. People starting to be released, seems worst may be over”.
One student, Judith Payne, said that they violence was especially shocking as the campus at Virginia Tech had been considered safe.
“I have always considered Virginia Tech very safe, oftentimes I have walked around campus late at night and never had anything happen to me,” she said.
A fleet of ambulances has ferried the injured to nearby hospitals however, rescue efforts were reportedly hampered by high winds which meant that medical helicopters could not be used.
Mr Flinchum said that police believed there had been just one shooter involved and that he was now dead at Norris Hall.
They are now investigating whether he was shot by security forces or killed himself.
He said it was unclear if the assailant was a student, but said that a number of the victims were.
In pictures: Virginia shootings
“Some of the victims were shot in a classroom,” Mr Flinchum said.
“Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions,” Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said, adding that the university was in the process of informing the next of kin of those killed.
Mr Steger said that officials were in the process of evacuating remaining students and staff from campus and that the university was now closed.
The White House released a statement saying that President George W Bush was “horrified” by the incident.
It is the deadliest shooting at a university or school in the US.
In 1966, the day after killing his wife and mother, gunman Charles Whitman opened fire from a tower on the campus of the University of Texas killing 14 people and injuring 31 others.
In 1999 two teenagers at Columbine High School in Colorado killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before taking their own lives.