Yaoundé, Cameroon — At least six people were crushed and killed outside the stadium hosting the match at Africa’s top football tournament on Monday, local government officials said. event.
Nasseri Paul Biya, governor of the central region of Cameroon, said more deaths could occur.
“We are not in a position to give you the total number of casualties,” he said.
The crash occurred when the crowd struggled to access the Olembet stadium in the capital Yaoundé to see the host country play Comoros in the final 16 knockout games at the Africa Cup of Nations.
A nearby Messashi Hospital official said he had accepted at least 40 injured people who had been rushed to the hospital by police and civilians. Authorities said the hospital was unable to treat all of them.
“Some of the injured are in despair,” said nurse Olinga Prudence. “We have to evacuate them to a specialized hospital.”
Witnesses at the stadium said the children were among the crushed people. Witnesses said it happened when the stadium steward closed the gate and stopped people from entering.
According to soccer officials, about 50,000 people tried to participate in the match. The stadium has a capacity of 60,000, but due to the size of the crowd due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was not intended to fill more than 80% of the match.
The Confederation of African Football, which runs the Africa Cup, said in a statement that it was aware of the incident.
“The CAF is currently investigating the situation and is looking for more information about what happened,” he said. “We are in constant contact with the Government of Cameroon and the Local Organizing Committee.”
According to a statement, one of the federation’s top executives, General Secretary Veron Mosengo Omba, visited an injured fan at the hospital.
Cameroon will host the Africa Cup for the first time in 50 years. The tournament was scheduled to be held in 2019, but due to serious concerns about the preparation of Cameroon, especially the stadium, the event was taken up that year and awarded to Egypt.
Olembet Stadium was one of the venues being scrutinized.
The incident on Monday hit the country second in a day after at least 17 people were killed in a fire caused by a series of explosions at a nightclub in Yaoundé on Sunday.
After that incident, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya urged the country to be vigilant while hosting the largest national sport event in half a century.
Cameroon won Game 2-1 on Monday and advanced to the quarterfinals.
By Edwin Kindzeka Moki and Isifu Wirfengla