Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has ordered a probe into the cause of a deadly stampede at a football stadium during a match that left at least 17 people dead and nearly 60 more injured.
The presidential decree was issued late on Friday following the stampede that occurred earlier in the day at a stadium in the northern city Uige where hundreds of fans rushed towards the stadium’s gates.
“I express my solidarity with the families of the deceased and have instructed the Provincial Government of Uige to provide all necessary assistance to the injured,” he said in a statement.
Dos Santos said he had given “guidance to the competent authorities to open an inquiry that will establish the cause of this serious incident.”
Panic spread through a crowd of fans during a match between Santa Rita de Cassia and Recreativo de Libolo football clubs in Angola’s domestic league season, local media said.
“There was a blockage at the entrance to the January 4 stadium… this obstruction caused multiple fatalities — 17 deaths, and there are 56 injured in the hospital,” police spokesman Orlando Bernardo told AFP.
There were an unknown number of children among those killed in the stampede, and that hospitals were still treating those wounded, he added.
Police authorities said hundreds of fans had attempted to gain entry into the already-packed stadium to watch the match, leading to a crush that pushed some people to the ground.
Many of those killed were reportedly trampled to death or had suffocated.
According to a statement published on the website of the Recreativo de Libolo club, “while the players were on the field, outside fans were trying to get into the stadium.”
“A gate probably gave way to the pressure of the crowd causing several people to fall who were literally trampled on by the crowd,” it added.
The Portuguese news agency Lusa cited the president of the Uige-based host team Santa Rita de Cassia as saying that local security forces were to blame for lack of crowd control.
Pedro Nzolonzi cited serious police error in letting the people so close to the field.
“Many of them did not want to pay and those who had tickets could not get in. Then the confusion began,” he said.
“It is all the fault of the police. It was easy to avoid. They just need to extend the safety cordon,” he added.
The country’s sports ministry also called on the local football association as well as provincial officials to conduct investigations into the tragic incident, according to state news agency Angop.