Alassane Outtara, Ivory Coast’s president, has launched an investigation into a stampede following a New Year’s Eve fireworks display that caused the deaths of 61 people, mostly children and teenagers.
Outtara has also on Wednesday called for three days of national mourning for the victims.
Some survivors said that makeshift barricades along the main boulevard prevented the movement of people and helped cause the stampede.
Police said that unknown people put tree trunks across the Boulevard de la Republique, where the trampling took place.
“After the fireworks we reopened the other streets, but we had not yet removed the tree trunks from the Boulevard de la Republique, in front of the Hotel Tiana near the National Assembly (parliament) building,” a police officer said.
“That is where the stampede happened when people flooded in from the other streets.”
Outtara said that the “investigation must take into account all the testimonies of victims…We will have a crisis centre to share and receive information”.
An estimated 50,000 people had gathered near the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium and elsewhere in Abidjan’s Plateau district to watch the fireworks.
As they streamed away from the show some encountered the blockades.
“Near the Justice Palace we were stopped by some people who put blockades of wood in the street,” Zoure Sanate said from her bed in Cocody Hospital.
“They told us we must stay in the Plateau area until morning. None of us accepted to stay in Plateau until the morning for a celebration that ended at around 1am.”
“Then came the stampede of people behind us,” she said.