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Cote d’Ivoire Mourns After New Year Stampede in Abidjan

02 Jan 2013

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Shoes discarded on a street in Plateau district of Abidjan


BBC

Three days of mourning have been declared in Cote d’Ivoire following a New Year's Eve stampede that killed at least 61 people in Abidjan.

Hundreds of people leaving a fireworks event at a stadium in the Plateau district were jammed into a tiny street in the early hours of Tuesday: many were crushed; others suffocated.

An investigation is under way. Many victims were said to be 15 or younger, reports the BBC.

President Alassane Ouattara described the deaths as a national tragedy.

Different theories are emerging as to what caused the stampede after the fireworks display ended in the 65,000-capacity Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium.

Some say a group of youths brandishing knives was snatching people's mobile phones, provoking panic among the large crowd, says the BBC's West Africa correspondent Thomas Fessy.

But others say security forces acted ineptly as they tried to control the many thousands walking through the city centre - triggering the stampede which has left many more people injured, some critically.

Ouattara visited some of the wounded who were taken to two hospitals in the country's main city and promised that the costs of their medical treatment would be covered by the government.

The Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium was named after the founding president of Cote d’Ivoire.

The fireworks event had been organised to celebrate the peace recently re-established after a period of unrest triggered by former President Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to recognise Ouattara's victory in 2010 elections.

The night before the tragedy, the stadium hosted a concert by US performer Chris Brown.


Tags: Africa, News, COTE D’IVOIRE, Abidjan

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