Ivory Coast New Year's fireworks stampede kills 60

Tragedy strikes near Ivory Coast's Abidjan stadium as crowd gathers to watch fireworks

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2013, 6:31am

About 60 people were crushed to death in a stampede outside a stadium in Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan after a New Year's Eve fireworks display.

The tragedy unfolded near Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium, where a crowd had gathered to watch fireworks.

Piles of abandoned shoes and clothing could be seen ouside the stadium. People reported seeing many injured children, while images broadcast on television showed bodies stretched lifeless on the ground outside the stadium.

A rescue worker said at least 200 people had been wounded in addition to those killed.

One of the injured said security forces had arrived to break up the crowd, triggering a panic in which many people fell over and were trampled.

"The provisional death toll is 60 and there are 49 injured," Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko said.

President Alassane Ouattara, visiting injured people in hospital, called the incident a national tragedy and said an investigation was underway to determine what happened.

"My two children came here yesterday. I told them not to come but they didn't listen. They came when I was sleeping. What will I do?" said Assetou Toure, a cleaner.

She did not know if her children had escaped unhurt.

The incident was the worst of its kind in Abidjan since 2010, when a stampede at a stadium during a football match killed 18 people.

Ivory Coast , once a stable economic hub for West Africa, is struggling to recover from a 2011 civil war in which more than 3,000 people were killed.

The merrymaking also turned deadly in Manila.

Celebratory gunfire killed a four-year-old boy as more than 400 others were injured by powerful firecrackers in typically rowdy new year celebrations.

A bullet hit the boy in the back as he was playing outside his home in Manila's Mandaluyong district. Police fear it will take time to trace the gun owner in a country where unlicensed firearms are widespread.

Celebrations in Sacramento, California, were marred when shots rang out during a suspected altercation as crowds gathered to watch fireworks, killing two people and leaving at least four others wounded.

The New Year also often turns lethal in some parts of Latin America, but there were no reports of deadly celebrations early yesterday.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse