Fatal lightning strike at the stadium during the Africa Cup of Nations match in Cameroon
Eight people were killed and around 50 injured in a crash outside a Cameroonian football stadium on Monday ahead of an Africa Cup of Nations match.
Crowds tried to enter through a southern entrance to the Olembe stadium in the capital Yaounde to watch the host country play Comoros.
Although the capacity of the 60,000-seat stadium has been limited by coronavirus fears, the 60% cap is raised to 80% when the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon play.
“Eight deaths were recorded, two women in their thirties, four men in their thirties, one child, one body taken away by the family,” according to a preliminary report from the Ministry of Health obtained by AFP.
The ministry said the victims were “immediately transported” in ambulances, but “heavy road traffic slowed the transport”.
Some 50 people were injured in the stampede, including two people with multiple injuries and two others with serious head injuries, the ministry said.
A baby was also reportedly trampled by the crowd, the ministry added, although the infant was “immediately extracted and transported to Yaoundé General Hospital” and is in “medically stable” condition.
The tournament organizers had previously confirmed to AFP that casualties had been recorded without giving further details.
Abel Mbengue, spokesman for the organizing committee of the Africa Cup of Nations, told AFP: “There was a crash like it can happen when there is a stampede. We are waiting for reliable information on the number of victims in this tragic incident”.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF), which runs the continent’s flagship competition, said it was “investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what happened”.
In an online statement, the organization said it had sent its secretary general “to visit the supporters hospitalized in Yaoundé”.
He added that he was “in constant communication with the Cameroonian government and the local organizing committee”.
Cameroonian Health Minister Manaouda Malachie tweeted footage showing him visiting a hospital treating those injured in the incident.
“Everything is done to provide them with free care and the best support,” he tweeted.
CAF will hold a “crisis meeting” with the organizing committee on Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. (08:30 GMT), devoted exclusively to security issues in the stadiums, a source close to CAF told AFP.
Cameroon was supposed to host the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019. However, the event was moved to Egypt in January of the same year as the stadiums in Cameroon were not prepared for the matches.
CAF stripped the country of the tournament, citing delays in stadium construction and infrastructure projects, as well as question marks over security.
Overcrowding at football matches around the world has claimed dozens of lives.
Thousands of fans in the Egyptian capital of Cairo in 2015 attempted to enter a stadium to watch a match, sparking panic when police fired tear gas and bird shots and left 19 people dead.
In April 2001, 43 people died in a stampede at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park stadium during a game between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.
And in Guatemala in October 1996, 90 people were killed in a crash during a World Cup qualifier between the host country and Costa Rica in an overcrowded stadium.
On the pitch, Cameroon sealed their place in the last eight of the tournament with a 2-1 victory and will now face The Gambia in the quarter-finals.
The Comorian team had qualified for the round of 16 in their first-ever participation in the Nations Cup.