2 Jan 2013

National mourning declared after fatal crush

1:56 pm on 2 January 2013

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

The incident occurred early on Tuesday near a stadium where a fireworks display was held.

The BBC reports the cause of the stampede is not yet clear. It occurred as people were heading home after the event. Many were crushed; others suffocated.

President Alassane Ouattara described the deaths as a national tragedy.

An investigation is underway. Most of the dead were children aged between eight and 15.

Mr Ouattara visited some of the injured who were taken to two hospitals and promised that the costs of their treatment would be covered by the government.

The crush happened near the entrance to the Felix Houphouet Boigny stadium after the fireworks ended at about 2am on Tuesday.

Details of what exactly happened remain sketchy. The site of the crush was littered with abandoned clothes and blood stains as light dawned.

The incident was the worst of its kind in Abidjan since 2010, when a stampede at a stadium during a football match killed 18 people.