Mali stadium stampede kills worshippers

At least 36 killed as crowd left stadium in capital filled beyond capacity for Muslim holy festival, say witnesses

Thirty-six people were killed and at least 64 others injured in a stampede at a stadium hosting a religious ceremony in Mali.

Tens of thousands had gathered to receive blessings from one of Mali's best-known imams, Ousmane Madani Haidara, during the Muslim festival of Maouloud.

Witnesses said the 25,000-seat Modibo Keita stadium in the capital, Bamako, had been filled well beyond its maximum capacity.

As the participants left the ceremony on Monday night, the crowd surged against a metal barrier, said Sadio Gassama, Mali's security minister. Another official said nearly all those who died were women.

Families waiting outside Bamako's Gabriel Toure hospital wept and comforted each other. At the city's central morgue, Ahmed Dada waited to collect the body of a 25-year-old friend.

"God decides everything," he told the Associated Press. "We all know we are just on the planet for a short time."

Sidiki Coulibaly was visibly shaken as he waited for news. "I've already had it confirmed that my aunt died. We are now trying to find out what happened to her daughter. She's just 10 years old. They go to this event together every year."

Mali's prime minister, Modibo Sidibé, visited the hospital to see the wounded and offer condolences to the bereaved.

At the point where people had been crushed, security personnel were collecting piles of shoes to put into a waiting van. A young girl sat on a bucket at the edge of the scene, crying. She had lost both parents and did not know her way home.

Last year at least 15 people died in another stampede at a mosque in Timbuktu during Maouloud.


David Smith in Johannesburg

The GuardianTramp

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