A crush of people has killed at least 61 party-goers — most of them children — following New Year’s eve celebrations in the city of Abidjan in the Ivory Coast. Officials say over 200 were injured in a stampede of people who had been watching fireworks at the African country’s sports stadium.
State broadcaster RTF 1 reported that the crush occurred when party goers were leaving Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in the country’s biggest city. Firefighter Colonel Sakho Issa told the station that many of the victims were suffocated after becoming trapped in a crush of people trying to return home.
Most of those killed were between 8 and 15 years old, he told the Associated Press.
Many of the injured taken to a nearby hospital were also children, according to news agencies. One of the casualties has told Reuters that security forces has tried to disperse the crowds, causing panic during which people fell and were trampled.
President Alassane Ouattara has visited the scene, declaring New Year’s Day to be a day of mourning in the West African state. A government investigation into what caused the accident is underway.
Hours after the stampede, soldiers patrolled the site, where victims’ clothes, shoes and other debris littered the street.