At least 10 people have died and 98 others wounded in a stampede at a campaign rally of Mozambique‘s President Filipe Nyusi, health authorities said.
Nampula Central Hospital officials said the deaths and injuries occurred when a crowd tried to move through a single gate of a stadium in the northern city of Nampula, where the rally was being held on Wednesday.
People were trampled on as they attempted to leave the facility, with a witness describing the scene as “total chaos”.
“The gates were closed and they were opened only after the departure of Frelimo [ruling party] candidate President Nyusi,” rally attendee Benjamin Nhumaio told the AFP news agency.
“Hence, everyone inside the [stadium] wanted to leave at the same time and there were people who were pushed and they fell and were trampled,” he said.
Frelimo party officials said six women and four men were killed in the stampede.
Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, the hospital’s director Cachimo Molina said 98 people were admitted for care at the health unit and all but 14 were later discharged. Eight are in intensive care, he said.
Mozambique’s Interior Minister Basilio Monteiro announced the creation of a commission of inquiry to investigate the cause of the incident.
The stampede deaths were not the first loss of life in the ongoing election campaign in Mozambique.
Twelve people were killed in the first week of campaigning – 10 in traffic accidents and two in political violence – while at least 29 were injured, according to the Public Integrity Centre monitoring group.
Mozambique is currently in its second week of election campaigning in advance of the October 15 general elections, in which Nyusi is hoping to secure a second term.
The party has dominated power in the East African country of just under 30 million people for more than four decades and the president is expected to win again.
His government and former rebel group-turned-opposition party Renamo finalised a long-awaited peace deal last month, 27 years after the end of the first civil war in the country.
But Renamo has said dozens of its members have come under attack just days after the signing of the historic deal, threatening the landmark agreement.