At least 6 reported dead in crush at African Cup soccer game

AP | YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — At least six people died in a crush outside a stadium hosting a game at Africa’s top soccer tournament in Cameroon on Monday, a local government official said, realizing fears over the capacity of the country to stage the continent’s biggest sports event.

Naseri Paul Biya, the governor of the central region of Cameroon, said there could be more deaths.

“We are not in position to give you the total number of casualties,” he said.

The crush happened as crowds struggled to get access to Olembe Stadium in the capital city of Yaounde to watch the host country play Comoros in a last 16 knockout game in the African Cup of Nations.

Officials at the nearby Messassi hospital said they received at least 40 injured people, who were rushed to the hospital by police and civilians. The officials said the hospital wasn’t capable of treating all of them.

“Some of the injured are in desperate condition,” said Olinga Prudence, a nurse. “We will have to evacuate them to a specialized hospital.”

People were seen lying motionless on their backs near an entrance to the stadium in the aftermath of the crush. A man knelt next to one of the victims and appeared to be trying to resuscitate the victim. Shoes, caps and colorful wigs — part of some of the fans’ game costumes — were strewn on the ground.

Witnesses said children were among those caught up in the crush. The witnesses said it happened when stadium stewards closed the gates and stopped allowing people in. It was not immediately clear if the crush happened before or during the game.

Soccer officials said around 50,000 people had tried to attend the match. The stadium has a capacity of 60,000 but it was not meant to be more than 80% full for the game due to restrictions on the size of the crowd because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Confederation of African Football, which runs the African Cup, said in a statement it was aware of the incident.

“CAF is currently investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired,” it said. “We are in constant communication with Cameroon government and the Local Organizing Committee.”

One of the federation’s top officials, general secretary Veron Mosengo-Omba, went to visit injured fans in the hospital, the statement said.

Cameroon is hosting the African Cup for the first time in 50 years. The Central African nation was meant to host the tournament in 2019 but the event was taken away from it that year and awarded to Egypt because of serious concerns with Cameroon’s preparations, particularly the readiness of its stadiums.

Olembe Stadium was one of the venues that was under scrutiny. It is the main stadium for the monthlong tournament and will stage three more games, including the final on Feb. 6.

Monday’s incident was the second serious blow to the country in the space of a day, after at least 17 people died when a fire set off a series of explosions at a nightclub in Yaounde on Sunday.

Following that incident, Cameroon President Paul Biya urged the country to be on guard while it hosts its biggest national sports event in a half century.

Cameroon won Monday’s game 2-1 to move on to the quarterfinals.

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11 comments

  1. Iimpossible n’est pas camerounais

    No country on planet earth has ever,

    1. forced the citizens to go to watch football
    2. closed schools because of football
    3. reduced working hours because of football
    4, given free tickets to citizens to enter stadia
    5. accepted ZERO COVID-TESTS in stadia
    6. etc

    Little wonder, stampedes are unavoidable in that GOD-FORSAKEN country.

    CONCLUSION

    LRC is always in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons

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  2. the decesion to invest huge money building staduims to host sporting competitions is a grave strategic mistake.this shows that we do not know how to organise and structure the future setting objectives and giving priority to certain things.investing money in creating industries should be the top priority.people can not attain football matches without money in their pockets.

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  3. @UNSTOPPABLE.. not to make excuses for what I think is a case of tragic human error, but this event is not unique to Cameroon unfortunately…
    Hillsborough Stadium: 96 dead 15 April, 1989 (I only know this as a Liverpool Fan)
    Port Said, Egypt: 70 dead Feb. 1, 2012
    Cairo, Egypt: 28 dead Feb. 8, 2015

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  4. @BAH ACHO.. We can debate the pros and cons of hosting such events, but what country in the world has not built or upgraded stadiums for major sporting events?

    • BUEAPICKIN,,,,,,,,without a solid competitive industrial sector with manufacturing firms employing millions of people.investing money to build infrastructure and host competitions like this is not getting our priorities right.all sporting events are thaught,organized and hosted by industries designed to enrich the countries citizens.hosting this competition and feeding people with imported wine,bred backed from imported flour,etc is an act of economic sucide.if the money invested to build staduims was invested to build an industrial zone producing and transforming agriculture products like corn to flour,wine,etc it will employ millions of people generating revenue for futher investment.

      • @BAH ACHO, I agree with you assessment and the big picture however, I also think you can walk and chew at the same time. The USA for example is going to host a world cup yet we still import all those things you mentioned and still have needs in under developed communities that mirror the needs in most underdeveloped nations.

        • BUEAPICKIN,,,,,what you did not mention is that america print dollars and use it to pay for imports because it is still the global reserve currency.so people work round the world to produce things and then america prints pappers and use it to pay for these goods.we do not have such an exhorbitant previledge.
          without a strong manufacturing economy anything we do is a waste of time.

  5. Too many tragic events involving loss of life. It is high time the president came down to earth, assumed his mortal human form, and declared a national day of fasting and prayers.

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    • Over his dead body. Come on boy, what has that got to do with `God`.

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    • @ John Dinga,

      well if we had something remotely close to what a president should be, we could have such expectations.

      Unfortunately, I no longer believe Paul Biya can think logically nor still have any moral ethics if he ever had some.

  6. Popol couldn’t imagine Kamto or any other citizen hosting this event. It’s his home stretch bucket list item as he descends into the twilight of his years and a presidency marred by corrupt decreed appointees and his own misappropriation of state funds, electoral fraud, and subjecting Cameroon to the dictates of France. A colonial stooge to the French, Biya had no governing acumen; does not understand how to build an industrial and agricultural base in order to ensure scientific development.
    Biya prostituted himself to the idea of a dictatorial practitioner with complicity from France. Ghana, a country half the size of Cameroon, was once the butt of jokes in Africa but today boasts an economy twice that of Cameroon ($80 billion). The charade of “The New Deal” and “Rigor & Moralisation”.