JOHANNESBURG – A crowd stampeded at a stadium in Malawi’s capital during independence day celebrations on Thursday, killing eight people and injuring more than 40 others, most of them children.
The disaster happened at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe ahead of a soccer match between two local teams.
The dead include children between five and 12 years old, reported The Daily Times, a newspaper in the southern African country. It said the accident happened when police used tear gas to disperse a crowd pushing into the stadium during commemorations of independence from Britain on July 6, 1964.
Ambulances, police cars and other vehicles rushed the injured to a hospital, where friends and family members gathered to check on the victims.
The stampede occurred around 10 a.m. when a stadium gate was being opened, reported The Nation, another Malawian newspaper. It described a chaotic scene at Kamuzu Central Hospital, where medics treated children in the emergency section and some victims were lying on the floor because all the beds were occupied.
Most of the injured were under 10 years old and had been looking forward to the soccer match, which was to be free for spectators, according to The Nation. A photograph on the newspaper’s website showed a medic rushing across the grounds of a hospital with a small child in his arms.