An­golan foot­ball fans

CityPress - - News -

At least 17 foot­ball fans died in a stampede at a sta­dium in north­ern An­gola on Fri­day, po­lice said, adding that scores of other spec­ta­tors were in­jured, many of them se­ri­ously. Panic spread through the crowd at the match, which took place in the north­ern city of Uige. The game, be­tween Santa Rita de Cas­sia and Re­cre­ativo de Li­bolo, formed part of An­gola’s do­mes­tic league sea­son.

“There was a block­age at the en­trance to the Jan­uary 4 Sta­dium. This ob­struc­tion caused mul­ti­ple fa­tal­i­ties – 17 deaths – and there are 56 in­jured peo­ple in the hos­pi­tal,” said po­lice spokesper­son Or­lando Bernardo.

He added that there were an un­known num­ber of chil­dren among the dead.

The in­ci­dent is sim­i­lar to a stampede which oc­curred in 2001 at El­lis Park Sta­dium (now Emi­rates Air­line Park) in Jo­han­nes­burg. In the worst sport­ing ac­ci­dent in South Africa’s his­tory, 43 peo­ple were killed and 250 in­jured as spec­ta­tors poured into a sta­dium that was al­ready full to over­ca­pac­ity.

The much-an­tic­i­pated foot­ball match was be­tween Kaizer Chiefs and Or­lando Pirates. Twenty-nine peo­ple died inside the sta­dium and a fur­ther 14 died out­side.

An­golan po­lice said hun­dreds of fans had tried to en­ter the al­ready packed sta­dium to see the match, caus­ing a crush that pushed some peo­ple to the ground. Many of them were tram­pled to death or suf­fo­cated.

“While the play­ers were on the field, out­side fans were

Do you think sta­dium dis­as­ters such as this one can be averted? If so, how?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word STAMPEDE and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50 try­ing to get into the sta­dium and a gate prob­a­bly gave way to crowd pres­sure, caus­ing sev­eral peo­ple to fall who were lit­er­ally tram­pled on by the crowd,” said the Re­cre­ativo de Li­bolo club on its web­site.

“There are al­ready 17 con­firmed dead and at least 59 wounded ... [This was] a tragedy with­out prece­dent in the his­tory of An­golan foot­ball.”

Some wit­nesses said many fans did not have tick­ets for the match, while other re­ports said spec­ta­tors inside the sta­dium were un­aware of the stampede un­til it was over.

Por­tuguese news agency Lusa re­ported that Pe­dro Nzolonzi, the pres­i­dent of the host team, Uige-based Santa Rita de Cas­sia, said se­cu­rity forces were to blame for not prop­erly con­trol­ling the crowd.

“There was a se­ri­ous po­lice er­ror in let­ting the peo­ple so close to the field,” it quoted Nzolonzi as say­ing.

“Many of them did not want to pay and those who had tick­ets could not get in. Then the con­fu­sion be­gan. “It is all the fault of the po­lice. It was easy to avoid. “They just need to ex­tend the safety cor­don.” The An­golan gov­ern­ment had de­manded an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cause of the dis­as­ter, re­ported the state-run An­gop news agency.

An­gola, ranked 148 in the Fifa World Rank­ings, is a mi­nor power in African foot­ball.

The coun­try has been rel­a­tively closed to the out­side world un­der the au­thor­i­tar­ian Pres­i­dent José Ed­uardo dos San­tos, who has ruled since 1979.

Foot­ball has a tragic his­tory of stam­pedes and sta­dium deaths, which are of­ten blamed on lack of crowd con­trol, dan­ger­ous venues and spec­ta­tor be­hav­iour.

In 2009, poor crowd con­trol in Abid­jan in Ivory Coast caused 19 deaths shortly be­fore a 2010 World Cup qual­i­fier match be­tween hosts Ivory Coast and Malawi was to start.

A stampede at the Ac­cra Sports Sta­dium in Ghana in 2001 re­sulted in 127 deaths when sup­port­ers, an­gered by their team’s de­feat, threw pro­jec­tiles and broke chairs. Po­lice threw tear gas grenades in re­tal­i­a­tion, trig­ger­ing a stampede.

In May 1964, 320 peo­ple were killed and more than 1 000 in­jured dur­ing a stampede at a Peru-Ar­gentina match at Lima’s Na­tional Sta­dium. Fans could not es­cape the crush and were tram­pled or as­phyx­i­ated.

Bri­tain ren­o­vated its foot­ball grounds af­ter 56 peo­ple died in a fire in a wooden stand in 1985, and 96 Liver­pool sup­port­ers died in a crush dur­ing an FA Cup semi­fi­nal in 1989.

– AFP

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