New Delhi: In a crush outside a stadium hosting an Africa Cup of Nations game in Cameroon, at least eight people have lost their lives and many others are seriously injured in the mishap, the government said in a statement on Tuesday.
The incident took place when a large crowd attempted to enter through a southern entrance at Olembe stadium in the capital Yaounde to watch the host nation play Comoros.
“Eight deaths were recorded, two women in their thirties, four men in their thirties, one child, one body taken away by the family,” according to a preliminary health ministry report obtained by AFP.
According to the ministry’s statement, the victims were immediately hastened to the nearby hospital but heavy road traffic slowed down the speed of ambulances.
The organizers of the tournament had earlier confirmed that the casualties had been recorded without providing further details.
“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,” organizing committee spokesperson Abel Mbengue told AFP.
According to the nearby witnesses, the incident took place when stadium stewards closed the gates and stopped allowing people in.
The official of Messassi hospital where the injured were hastened mentioned that they had received at least 40 injured people. It was around 12:15 am local time on Monday when injured people at the stadium had left for the hospital.
“Some of the injured are in desperate condition,” said Olinga Prudence, a nurse. “We will have to evacuate them to a specialized hospital.”
Amid the growing cases of Coronavirus, the stadium was not meant to be more than 80% full for the game. The officials said about 50,000 people had tried to attend the match.
According to the Confederation of African Football, which runs the Africa Cup of Nations, it “is currently investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired”.
“We are in constant communication with the Cameroon government and the Local Organizing Committee,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has also shown their condolences and said: “FIFA sends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives following the tragic incident that took place at Olembe Stadium during the Africa Cup of Nations fixture between Cameroon and Comoros.
“The thoughts and prayers of the global football community are with the victims, the ones who have been injured in this incident, and all the staff of both CAF and the Cameroonian Football Association (FECAFOOT) at this difficult moment.”
It is the first time in 50 years that Cameroon is hosting the Africa Cup and the tournament was meant to be played in 2019 but was awarded to Egypt because of serious concerns, particularly the readiness of Cameroon’s stadiums.
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