More than 30 people killed in stampede at church event in Nigeria

More than 30 people were killed in southern Nigeria Saturday after a stampede broke out during a crowded church charity event where food was being distributed.

Shoes and slippers lay scattered on the ground after the disaster in Port Harcourt city in southern Rivers State when people tried to force their way into the event, police and witnesses said.

A local Kings Assembly church organization was offering food and gifts for the poor at the Port Harcourt Polo Club when a “mammoth” crowd got out of control, Rivers State police said.

“Unfortunately, the crowd became tumultuous and uncontrollable, and all efforts made by the organizers to bring sanity proved abortive,” the police said in a statement. “A total of 31 persons lost their lives in the stampede.”

Images posted on social media and verified by AFP showed families crying and attending to injured people, many of them children, outside the city’s military hospital. Witnesses described frantic pushing and trampling as people trying to get into the entrance were forced back.

“They were telling people ‘Go back, go back, go back,'” said witness Chisom Nwachukwu. “Some people that were pushing from backwards were marching on those people.”

Police confirmed that a criminal investigation is now underway.

National Emergency Management Agency southern region coordinator Godwin Tepikor told AFP church members had been seated inside when the crowd of people rushed in.

“A huge crowd from outside surged into the club through a narrow gate, resulting in the stampede,” he said.




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