Many of the people came for gifts and free food. But then there is a dense crowd. Dozens of people die.
According to the police, 31 people died in a mass panic shortly before the start of a church event in Nigeria. Seven others were injured in the accident in the city of Port Harcourt in the south of the country on Saturday morning, the police confirmed to the German Press Agency.
A large crowd gathered to receive free food donations, police spokeswoman Grace Iringe-Koko said. There was a mass panic, she told the dpa. According to initial reports, crowds just before the start of the event could have triggered the stampede.
Numerous participants came for the event, also reported the newspaper “Punch”. Some people had been there since Friday, it said. When a small gate was opened on Saturday morning, the crowd may have tried to gain entry.
Similar incidents in the past
The dead and injured were reportedly taken to the nearby Port Harcourt military hospital.
Similar incidents had happened in the past. In July, seven people died in Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria, when a charity distributed free food.
Disasters occur again and again at mass religious festivals around the world. Just about a year ago, 45 people died in a stampede in Israel. Around 100,000 people had gathered at the religious festival on Mount Meron in late April 2021 when participants slipped on a sloping ramp.
The explosion of firecrackers next to a Hindu temple and the ensuing panic killed more than 100 people during the Indian New Year festival of Vishu in Paravur in April 2016. According to the government, 769 people died in a mass panic on the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in September 2015 in Saudi Arabia, while unofficial estimates put the number of victims at around 2,000.