Three days of national mourning have been declared in Ivory Coast after a stampede killed at least 60 people on New Year’s Eve.
It is unclear what caused the stampede at a fireworks display at the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Stadium in the Plateau district of Abidjan, but several theories are emerging, such as one claiming that youths carrying knives caused panic amongst the crowds.
Others say security forces acted incompetently as they tried to control the crowds. Many of the victims who were jammed into tiny streets were 15 years old or younger.
The interior minister, Hamed Bakayoko, said in a statement on national television: “At the end of it people wanted to go home, back to their home districts. Near the Hotel Tiama and the Houphouët-Boigny Stadium there was a stampede. We were notified of injuries and deaths, and as regards casualties, we learnt that there was a heavy toll. The circumstances surrounding the incident will form the subject of an investigation.”
According to the Associated Press, a state radio and fire rescue workers, another estimated 200 people have been injured in the stampede.
This is the worst incident of its kind in Ivory Coast since a stampede in 2010 killed 18 people. An official investigation into the event is under way.