Cameroon stadium stampede claims 8, 50 hurt


People die in Cameroon during Africa Cup game Image:

Eight people were killed and about 50 injured in a crush outside a Cameroonian football stadium on January 24th ahead of an Africa Cup of Nations match.

The ‘NDTV’ stated that crowds attempted to enter through a Southern entrance at the 60,000-capacity Paul Biya Stadium, Olembé, in the capital Yaoundé (Cameroon) to watch the host nation play Comoros (the Comoros national football team represents the Comoros [country in East Africa] in international football).

The CAF Africa Cup of Nations, officially French: Coupe d’ Afrique des Nations, referred to as TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations after its headline sponsor, and sometimes as African Cup of Nations, is the main international men’s association football competition in Africa.

The ‘NDTV’ further stated that although the stadium’s capacity of 60,000 has been limited over coronavirus fears, the 60 percent cap is raised to 80 percent when Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions (Cameroon national football team) play.

According to a preliminary Health Ministry report, “Eight deaths were recorded, two women in their 30s, four men in their 30s, one child, one body taken away by the family.”

The Ministry said victims were “immediately transported” in ambulances, but “heavy road traffic slowed down the transport”.

Some 50 people were injured in the crush, including two people with multiple injuries and two more with serious head wounds, the Ministry said.

A baby was also reportedly trampled by the crowd, the Ministry added, although the infant was “immediately extracted and taken to the Yaoundé General Hospital and is in a “medically stable” condition.

Tournament organizers had earlier confirmed that casualties had been recorded without providing further details.

The Africa Cup of Nations Organising Committee spokesperson Abel Mbengue stated, “There was a crush as can happen when there is a stampede. We are waiting for reliable information on the number of casualties in this tragic incident.”

The Confederation of African Football (CAF), which runs the continent’s flagship competition, said it was “investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired”.

In a statement online, the organization said it had sent its Secretary General to “visit the supporters in hospital in Yaoundé.”

It added it was in “constant communication with the Cameroon Government and the Local Organising Committee”.

Cameroon’s Health Minister Manaouda Malachie tweeted images showing him visiting a hospital treating those hurt in the incident – “Everything is done to give them free care and the best support.”

Deadly crowding

Cameroon was meant to host the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019. However, the event was relocated to Egypt in January of that year over concerns Cameroon’s stadiums were not prepared for the games.

The CAF stripped the country of the tournament, citing delays in the construction of stadiums and infrastructure projects, as well as question marks over security.

Overcrowding at football matches around the world has resulted in scores of deaths.

Thousands of fans in the Egyptian capital Cairo in 2015 attempted to enter a stadium to watch a game, triggering panic as police fired tear gas and birdshot and resulting in 19 dead.

In April 2001, 43 people died in a stampede at Johannesburg’s 62,567-capacity Ellis Park Stadium during a game between the South African professional football clubs Orlando Pirates F.C. and Kaizer Chiefs F.C.

And in Guatemala in October 1996, 90 people were killed in a crush during a World Cup qualification match between the host nation and Costa Rica at an overpacked stadium.

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