Eight dead in Sene­gal foot­ball sta­dium crush

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Eight peo­ple were killed dur­ing Sene­gal’s foot­ball league cup fi­nal in Dakar on Satur­day, the sports min­is­ter said, as a wall col­lapsed onto clashing sup­port­ers trig­ger­ing a pan­icked stam­pede. Sports min­is­ter Matar Ba said a young girl was among the dead, while around 60 in­jured fans had been taken to health fa­cil­i­ties in Dakar. He vowed “strong mea­sures so that such an event will never be re­peated in Sene­gal,” speak­ing to AFP by phone. A mass de­ploy­ment of fire­fight­ers and am­bu­lances re­mained at the scene late Satur­day.

An AFP jour­nal­ist who at­tended the match de­scribed a sta­dium full to burst­ing with peo­ple for the long-awaited clash be­tween lo­cal teams US Ouakam and Stade de Mbour. At 2-1 dur­ing ex­tra time, US Ouakam sup­port­ers be­gan throw­ing stones at Stade de Mbour fans, caus­ing spec­ta­tors to be­gin va­cat­ing their seats in a rush, the jour­nal­ist said. Part of a wall sup­port­ing bleach­ers seat­ing fans from both sides then col­lapsed, while po­lice had be­gun fir­ing tear gas and panic spread in the sta­dium lead­ing to a crush.

“All of a sud­den when the wall fell... we knew ex­actly that some of our own had lost their lives be­cause the wall fell di­rectly onto peo­ple,” said Cheikh Maba Diop, a wit­ness who helped evac­u­ate vic­tims from the sta­dium and lost a friend in the tragedy. Also speak­ing at the scene, foot­ball fan Mara Die Diouf said polic­ing at the sta­dium had been in­ad­e­quate. “What I find ter­ri­ble is that we have this kind of fi­nal in this kind of sta­dium here where there isn’t enough se­cu­rity,” he said.

Diouf de­scribed po­lice re­treat­ing from an area sep­a­rat­ing the two teams’ sup­port­ers once pro­jec­tiles be­gan be­ing thrown, trig­ger­ing dan­ger­ous move­ments by spec­ta­tors un­able to de­fend them­selves. AFP jour­nal­ists at the scene saw be­long­ings cov­ered in blood at the site, with a pair of glasses and cloth­ing strewn among bro­ken pieces of con­crete. Cam­paign­ing for Sene­gal’s leg­isla­tive elec­tions due on July 30 would on Sun­day be sus­pended in re­spect for the vic­tims, said a spokesman for Pres­i­dent Macky Sall.

Sall also wanted “pun­ish­ments serv­ing as a warn­ing,” fol­low­ing the tragedy, spokesman El Hami­dou Kasse said on TFM tele­vi­sion. Sene­gal’s safety record at large gath­er­ings has been heav­ily crit­i­cized this year af­ter the death of dozens of peo­ple at a re­li­gious re­treat in April when a fire ripped through makeshift shel­ters.—AFP

DAKAR: Peo­ple look at the scene af­ter a wall col­lapsed at Demba Diop sta­dium in Dakar af­ter a foot­ball game be­tween lo­cal teams Ouakam and Stade de Mbour. — AFP

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