Mon, Jul 17, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Senegal soccer stadium crush kills eight: official

POOR POLICING?Part of a wall supporting bleachers where opposing fans were seated collapsed while police began firing tear gas, sparking panic and a stampede

AFP, DAKAR

People stand near a collapsed wall at a soccer stadium in Dakar on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Eight people were killed during Senegal’s soccer league cup final in Dakar on Saturday, Senegalese Minister of Sports Matar Ba told reporters, as a wall collapsed onto clashing supporters, triggering a panicked stampede.

Ba said a young girl was among the dead, while about 60 injured fans had been taken to health facilities in Dakar.

He vowed “strong measures so that such an event will never be repeated in Senegal,” speaking to reporters by telephone.

A mass deployment of firefighters and ambulances remained at the scene late on Saturday.

A reporter who attended the match described a stadium full to bursting with people for the long-awaited clash between local teams US Ouakam and Stade de Mbour.

At 2-1 during extra time, US Ouakam supporters began throwing stones at Stade de Mbour fans, causing spectators to begin vacating their seats in a rush, the reporter said.

Part of a wall supporting bleachers seating fans from both sides then collapsed while police had begun firing tear gas and panic spread in the stadium leading to a crush, the reporter said.

“All of a sudden when the wall fell ... we knew exactly that some of our own had lost their lives because the wall fell directly onto people,” said Cheikh Maba Diop, a witness who helped evacuate victims from the stadium and lost a friend in the tragedy.

Also speaking at the scene, fan Mara Die Diouf said policing at the stadium had been inadequate.

“What I find terrible is that we have this kind of final in this kind of stadium here where there isn’t enough security,” he said.

Diouf described police retreating from an area separating the two teams’ supporters once projectiles began being thrown, triggering dangerous movements by spectators unable to defend themselves.

Reporters at the scene saw belongings covered in blood at the site, with a pair of glasses and clothing strewn among broken pieces of concrete.

Campaigning for Senegal’s legislative elections would be suspended yesterday in respect for the victims, a spokesman for Senegalese President Macky Sall said.

Sall also urged “punishments serving as a warning,” following the tragedy, spokesman El Hamidou Kasse said on TFM television.

Senegal’s safety record at large gatherings has been heavily criticized this year after the death of dozens of people at a religious retreat in April when a fire ripped through makeshift shelters.

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