A stampede left eight dead and around 40 injured Monday evening January 24 in front of the Olembé stadium in Yaoundé, before the round of 16 of the African Cup of Nations (CAN) between Cameroon and the Comoros, according to the authorities. “Eight deaths are recorded”, including that of a child, the ministry said in a report obtained by AFP. An initial assessment provided earlier by Cameroonian public television reported a “Half a dozen dead and dozens injured”.
Football, basketball and timeouts
According to the Ministry of Health, the stampede occurred at the southern entrance to the Cameroonian capital compound. The victims were “immediately transported” in ambulances, but “the intense road traffic has slowed down transport”according to the report.
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A baby was also trampled by the crowd, still outside the stadium, when the health pass was checked, according to the Ministry of Health. The baby, “immediately extirpated and taken to the general hospital of Yaoundé”, is in a state “medically stable”, the ministry said. Thirty-eight people were injured in the tragedy, seven of them seriously, the Ministry of Communication said in a statement.
President Paul Biya has ordered an investigation into the stampede, the government announced on Tuesday. “The Head of State ordered the opening of an investigation so that all the light is shed on this tragic incident”, explains in a press release the Ministry of Communication. The government “call one more time” Cameroonians “the sense of responsibility, discipline and good citizenship of all for the total success of this great sporting celebration”.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF), which organizes the competition with Cameroon, also assured that it was investigating “currently on the situation in order to obtain more details on these incidents”. CAF, which sent its secretary general “at the bedside of victims admitted to hospitals in Yaoundé”, must hold this Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. ” crisis meeting “ with the CAN organizing committee, dedicated exclusively to security issues in stadiums, a source close to CAF told AFP.
A gauge of 80%
Cameroon has been hosting since January 9 and until February 6 the CAN, the queen competition of African football, in the stadiums of five cities This tragedy took place before the round of 16 match in which Cameroon beat the Comoros (2-1). A few minutes after the final whistle of the meeting, there was no longer any trace of the stampede near the Olembé stadium, noted an AFP journalist.
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This stadium in the Cameroonian capital, with a capacity of 60,000 seats, was specially built for the CAN. To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, a 60% stadium filling gauge had been introduced, increased to 80% when the “Indomitable Lions”, the players of the Cameroon national team, play.
Before this accident, similar tragedies have bereaved the world of football in Africa in recent years. Thus, on July 15, 2017, eight people were killed and hundreds injured in a crowd movement at the Demba-Diop stadium in Dakar, after clashes between supporters during the Coupe de la Ligue final.
Football matches “permanently interrupted” if a referee or a player is injured by a projectile
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On April 11, 2001, 43 people died when thousands of ticketless fans forced their way into the already packed Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa. The same year, on May 10, 2001, 126 people died in Accra, Ghana during clashes between supporters. The police had fired tear gas and the spectators, wanting to flee, had found the gates of the stadium closed.
The most dramatic toll for this type of tragedy in the world was recorded at the Nacional stadium in Lima, in May 1964, when a disallowed goal in the qualifying match for the Olympic Games between Peru and Argentina caused a fight general and a crowd movement in the stands, killing 320 and injuring a thousand. It is also the second serious accident in Cameroon in less than a week. During the night from Saturday to Sunday, an accidental fire caused by fireworks had killed at least 16 people in a nightclub in an upscale district of Yaoundé.