A crush outside a stadium in Cameroon’s capital hosting an Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) match left at least eight people dead and more than 35 injured, according to officials.
Crowds on Monday attempted to enter the Yaounde Olembe stadium, which has a capacity of 60,000, to watch the host nation beat Comoros 2-1 in Africa’s top football tournament and reach the quarter-finals.
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While attendance at the tournament is limited to 60 percent stadium capacity because of coronavirus restrictions, the cap is 80 percent for matches involving the national team.
“Eight deaths were recorded, two women in their 30s, four men in their 30s, one child, one body taken away by the family,” said a preliminary health ministry report obtained by AFP on Tuesday.
Communications Minister Rene Emmanuel Sadi said that 38 people were injured in the crush, including seven seriously, according to a statement.
The Confederation of African Football, which runs the continent’s flagship competition, said it was “investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired”.
Following a low turnout in the first round games at brand new stadiums built for AFCON, Cameroon authorities have thrown open stadium gates, organised mass transport and given out free tickets to lure fans.
Over the years, overcrowding at football matches has resulted in hundreds of deaths around the world.
In 2015, thousands of fans in Cairo attempted to enter a stadium in the Egyptian capital to watch a game, triggering panic as police fired tear gas and birdshot. The chaos led to the deaths of 40 people and dozens were injured.
In 2001, 43 people died in a stampede at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park stadium during a game between the Orlando Pirates and the Kaizer Chiefs.
In Liverpool in 1989, 96 people were killed in a crush at the Hillsborough stadium in Britain’s worst sporting tragedy.