At least one person has been killed and nearly 40 injured in the latest stampede to occur at an African stadium with tragic consequences.
The incident occurred just before the start of Madagascar’s match against Senegal in the qualifying round of the African Cup of Nations in the former’s capital Antananarivo.
“There was a stampede in front of the stadium (…) for now we have a report of one dead and 37 injured,” the director of Hrja hospital, Oliva Alain Rakoto, said.
Witnesses said thousands of fans had been waiting outside Mahamasina Stadium since early in the morning, well ahead of the 2:30 pm kickoff. French radio station RFI reported there was a rush to enter the stadium when the gates were opened.
One fan, Henintsoa Mialy Harizafy, told AFP her uncle had left home around 8:00am to attend the game. “We heard he was hospitalised here after being trampled in the stampede,” she said. “I don’t understand why only one entrance gate was open for such a big match.”
Another fan, Rivo Raberisaona, said: “We were a metre and a half (five feet) from the entrance when the stampede happened. I was trampled in the back, but my rucksack softened the blow.”
Despite the crush, the match began on time with 20,000 spectators and ended 2-2, boosting Madagascar’s chances of qualifying for next year’s continental showpiece in Cameroon.
The history of African football is marked by frequent deadly stampedes. In July 2017, eight people were killed when rival supporters clashed during Senegal’s League Cup final. Five months earlier, 17 people were killed and 58 injured in Angola ahead of a season-opening match for the national championship.