16 dead in crush at Madagascar independence day event - hospital

2019-06-27 13:00
At least 16 people died and dozens were injured during independence day celebrations. (Rijasolo, AFP)

At least 16 people died and dozens were injured during independence day celebrations. (Rijasolo, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

At least 16 people have been crushed to death and dozens more injured in Madagascar at a stadium hosting national independence day celebrations in capital Antananarivo. 

The incident occurred on Wednesday afternoon outside the Mahamasina stadium, where several thousand people had gathered for a concert following the traditional military parade held to mark the national holiday.

The bodies of 16 people killed, including three children, were being stored in the mortuary of Joseph Ravoahangy Andrianavalona Hospital in the city. Photos showed the dead lying on the ground partially covered by white sheets.

Some 80 people were wounded Olivat Rakoto Alson, the head of the hospital said.

Witnesses at the hospital told AFP news agency that security forces had opened the gates to allow spectators to enter the enclosure, causing the crowd to mass outside the stadium.

Police then immediately closed the gates and blocked the crowd, which caused the deadly pile up, witnesses claimed. 

"When the organisers opened the gate, we were in the front row in the queue," Jean Claude Etienne Rakotoarimanana, who suffered bruises from the crush, told AFP.

"Suddenly, people ran to get in front of us. They shoved us, some even punched us and pulled us," he added, saying he fainted during the commotion.

'Too many people'

Chief of the National Gendarmerie, General Richard Ravalomanana, offered a different account, saying the crowd had misheard that the gates had been opened.

"People tried to force the doors but they remained closed, the crowd kept pushing," he said.

Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina offered condolences over the deaths at a press conference on Wednesday with his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, who was the guest of honour for celebrations of the 59th anniversary of Madagascar's independence.

Earlier on Wednesday, the two leaders had attended a military parade in the same stadium.

"There were too many people unable to enter the stadium," which led to the crush, Rajoelina said, adding that the state would cover the hospital bills of those injured. 

Rajoelina later visited the wounded in hospital, as did Prime Minister Christian Ntsay.

Wednesday's incident was the second deadly crush at Mahamasina stadium after a similar incident before the start of a qualifier for the African Cup in September left one dead and 30 injured.

In 2016, the same stadium was the site of a deadly bomb attack, which killed three people and left scores injured.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    madagascar  |  southern africa

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.