17 people have been confirmed dead and dozens of others critically injured during a stampede at a football stadium in Northern Angolan city of Uige.
Reports say supporters of local football clubs stormed the gate of the city’s January 4th stadium to try to get into the stadium. Their numbers quickly surged seven minutes into the game between Santa Rita de Cássia and Recreativo de Libolo as an early goal was scored by Inácio Cassuque (Viet) for Recreativo do Libolo, and people had to walk over each other as they strove to find their way.
“There has been a push that led to the suffocation of people. Some people had to walk on other people. There were 76 casualties of whom 17 died.”
Ernesto Luis, director general of a local hospital told Reuters.
Santa Rita’s manager Sérgio Traguil said that he was “devastated” by what had happened.
“I only knew what happened when I left the stadium. No one around us knew.”
Condolences have been pouring in for the victims of the disaster.
“Tragedy has once again struck football. FC Porto stands in solidarity with the families of the victims and with the Angolan people.”
FC Porto of Portugal wrote on a FB post.
West Africa has had a fair share of football stadium disaster. In 2009, fans at Ivory Coast’s Félix Houphouet-Boigny arena started pushing against each other shortly before a game between Ivory Coast and Malawi, setting off a panic that led to a stampede that cost over twenty-five lives. Again in 2013 at the same Félix Houphouet-Boigny arena in Ivory Coast, police’s attempt to control celebration that followed New Year’s Eve fireworks triggered a stampede during which about 65 people were trampled to death.
The most tragic of them all took place 16 years ago during a match between the Asante Kotoko of Kumasi and the Hearts of Oak of Accra, all in Ghana. 121 Ghanian football fans died in what is now known as the Accra Sports Stadium disaster when police personel triggered a stampede by firing teargas to put down angry reaction that followed a controversial decison by the referee.