In Cameroon, at least eight people died in a stampede outside a stadium hosting an Africa Cup of Nations football match on Monday, according to the country’s Ministry of Communication.
The crush took place at the southern entrance to the Olembe Stadium as tournament hosts Cameroon beat Comoros 2-1 in Yaounde, with at least 38 more people confirmed to have been injured – seven seriously – and taken to nearby hospitals.
African football’s governing body, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said that it was aware of an incident at Olembe Stadium, which is limited to 60% capacity due to coronavirus, but 80% when Cameroon play.
“CAF is currently investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired. We are in constant communication with Cameroon government and the Local Organizing Committee,” it said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Spokesperson for the Africa Cup of Nations organizing committee, Abel Mbengue said: “There was a crush as can happen when there is a stampede. We are waiting for reliable information on the number of casualties in this tragic incident.”
In a government statement, Cameroon’s president Paul Biya “extended his deepest commiserations to the affected families and his best wishes for a speedy recovery to those injured.”
Cameroon is hosting the competition for the first time in 50 years. The country was stripped of AFCON hosting duties in 2019 over infrastructure concerns.
At the time there were also worries over the security situation in the country where English speakers had been protesting for months over marginalization by the francophone-dominated administration.
The global pandemic and incomplete building work had also led to doubts over Cameroon’s readiness to host the tournament in 2022, and in December it was not clear whether the country would be ready.
Confirmation that the competition would proceed came on December 21 when CAF President Patrice Motsepe gave it the greenlight.
kb/rt (AP, Reuters)