Death Toll from Ivory Coast Stampede Rises

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(Originally Published: 1/2/2013 7:41 AM)

Highlights
The number killed in a New Year’s stampede in Angola climbs to 16

Three children were among those killed, state-run newspaper reports

Ivory Coast begins three days of national mourning for 60 people killed in a stampede

Most of those killed in Ivory Coast were women and children

Death toll from stampede at Angola stadium vigil rises
By CNN Staff

(CNN) — The death toll from a New Year’s stampede during a church vigil at an Angolan stadium rose to 16 Wednesday, state media said, as details emerged of how the tragedy unfolded.

The deadly crush at the gates of the Cidadela Desportiva stadium, in Angola’s capital, Luanda, came Monday evening as tens of thousands of people flocked to an event staged by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.

Three children, aged three and four, were among the 16 people killed, according to state-run newspaper Jornal de Angola.

Angolan state news agency Angola Press reported 10 deaths in the stampede as of Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Ivory Coast is beginning three days of national mourning for at least 60 people crushed to death after they left a New Year’s Eve fireworks display in the West African country’s biggest city, Abidjan.

President Alassane Ouattara has ordered a speedy investigation into the circumstances and cause of the tragedy, his office said in a statement Tuesday night.

Ouattara went to the scene of the stampede, in Plateau, the city’s central business district, Tuesday and has ordered the government to take care of the injured, his office said.

The dead in Abidjan included 26 children, 28 women and six men, Youth Minister Alain Lobognon said via Twitter. Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko said 49 people were injured, two of them seriously.

In both incidents, many of the victims died as a result of being trampled or suffocated by the surging crowds.

In Luanda, the crisis came when many more people turned up for the vigil than the 70,000 who were expected by the organizers, according to Angola Press.

People had been arriving at the stadium since the morning, the Jornal de Angola reported Wednesday, leaving no space for those who arrived later in the day.

Witnesses said all the gates were open and that people could also watch the service on big screens placed outside, the newspaper reported.

However, anxiety led people to push through a set of the gates into the stadium, causing a stampede, it said.

Witnesses told the newspaper the situation was aggravated when bags of holy water by the gates burst in the confusion and created a dangerously slippery surface on the entrance slope.

The deaths occurred as a result of crushing and asphyxiation, Angola Press reported, quoting Angola’s national firefighters’ department spokesman Faustino Sebastiao. Another 120 people were injured, the news agency said.

The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God was founded in Brazil in 1977 and has since expanded to more than 100 countries around the globe, according to its website. Its first church in Africa opened in Angola in 1992.

CNN’s Laura Smith-Spark and Laura Perez Maestro contributed to this report.

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