22 die in stampede at Ivory Coast soccer match
At least 22 people were killed and 132 injured Sunday in a stampede before a World Cup of soccer qualifying match in Ivory Coast, the country's interior minister announced on state television.
Desire Tagro said the main stadium in Abidjan was overrun with people who pushed against each other, setting off the panic that led to the stampede ahead of the Ivory Coast-Malawi game.
The match went ahead despite the tragedy, with Ivory Coast defeating Malawi 5-0.
"Lots of fans showed up," Tagro said. "They started pushing to get in because the match was about to start and each and every one of them wanted to get in."
An Associated Press photographer said people began shoving and pushing 40 minutes before the beginning of the game at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium. Police fired tear gas into one section of the crowd.
Ollo Kambire, a reporter for the TV channel Super Sport, said that a wall collapsed under the weight of the fans as they pushed toward the field. "We saw people falling. Then there was panic and a stampede," he said.
Such incidents are not unusual at crowded stadiums in certain parts of the world, especially at events that touch national pride, such as World Cup qualifying matches.
A 2001 stampede at a stadium in Ghana left 130 people dead, the worst soccer disaster ever in Africa.
Badly equipped security forces are far outnumbered and are often unable to control the voluminous crowds.