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Nigeria church stampede: at least 24 dead

4 years ago56 views

Originally published on November 4, 2013

At least 24 people were killed when a stampede broke out at an overcrowded Nigerian church gathering on Saturday morning.

More than 100,000 people had gathered for very popular healing sessions by a local priest.

According to reports, the accident happened right before dawn, when people started leaving the Holy Ghost Adoration Centre after prayers.

"There were too many people and the place was so overcrowded," Osmond Okoli, who survived after being squashed in the crowd, told local station Channels TV.

As the crowd of people was making its way out of town along a narrow road, someone cried out that there was a fire.

Despite being a false alarm, people started pushing, causing some to fall as others were suffocated in the large crowd.

Five men and 19 women were killed.

Those injured in the incident received treatment at local hospitals.

Reports saying that the stampede was caused by a snake that purportedly came out from somewhere were denied by the Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha Diocese, the Most Rev. Valerian Okeke.

Local newspaper blamed politicking for the elections on November 18. They quoted witnesses as saying the false warning of a fire was made to try to end a speech by governor Peter Obi, who attended the gathering and was booed as he tried to promote his gubernatorial candidate.

The Anambra State government has declared three days of mourning for the victims of the accident.

According to Reuters, "Religious services gathering several hundred thousand people are common in Nigeria, a country of around 170 million split roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims."

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