The 2021 African Cup of Nations has hit its lowest moment following the death of more than eight people during Cameroon’s last 16 tie with Comoros at the Paul Biya Stadium in Yaounde.
The eight died in a stampede outside the stadium as fans tried to force their access to the stadium to witness the hosts and five-time champions take on debuting Islanders who had already caused an upset at the tournament by knocking out four-time champions Ghana in the group stage.
“Eight deaths were recorded, two women in their thirties, four men in their thirties, one child, one body taken away by the family,” says a preliminary report by the country’s Ministry of Health obtained by AFP.
Video footage making rounds on social media shows fans struggling to gain access to the 60,000-seater stadium whose capacity has been limited to an 80% capacity to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, but reports indicate 50,000 fans wanted to attend.
According to the report, a child is among those that died in the stampede that also left dozens of nursing injuries.
“People started shouting. A minute after that an ambulance came to the stadium, but when we got to the place the police would not allow us to get close to where the stampede was,” Leocadia Bongben, a journalist who was at the match, told BBC.
The AFCON organizing committee has admitted to the stamp occurring with Africa’s football governing body (CAF) stating that it was investigating the incident to get enough details.
“There was a crush as can happen when there is a stampede. We are waiting for reliable information on the number of casualties in this tragic incident,” AFCON organizing committee spokesperson Abel Mbengue told AFP
The Indomitable Lions won the tie 2-1 against 10-man Comoros to qualify for the quarterfinals.