61 killed in Ivory Coast stampede
ABIDJAN – Sixty-one people were killed – many of them youths – and more than 200 injured when a crowd stampeded after leaving a New Year’s fireworks show early yesterday in Ivory Coast’s commercial centre.
The death toll was expected to rise, rescue workers said.
Thousands had gathered at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan’s Plateau district to see the fireworks. After the show, the crowds poured onto the Boulevard de la Republic by the Hotel Tiama at about 1 a.m., said Colonel Issa Sako of the fire department rescue team.
“The flood of people leaving the stadium became a stampede which led to the deaths of more than 60 and injured more than 200,” Sako told Ivory Coast state television.Most of those killed were between eight and 15 years old, he said.
Desperate parents went to the city morgue, the hospital and to the stadium to try to find their children who were still missing.
It was the second year that Abidjan had a New Year’s fireworks display.
Hours after the stampede, soldiers patrolled the site where victims’ clothes, shoes and other debris littered the street.
This is not Ivory Coast’s first stadium tragedy. In 2009, 22 people died and over 130 were injured in a stampede at a World Cup qualifying match at the same stadium prompting FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, to impose a fine of tens of thousands of dollars on Ivory Coast’s soccer federation.
The stadium, which officially holds 35 000, was overcrowded at the time of the disaster. (AP)