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17 people have died in a football stampede during a first division match on Friday in the town of Uige, northwestern Angola.
The stampede occurred at the gate of the January 4 Stadium, where the hosts, Santa Rita de Cassia, were playing against Recreativo do Libolo in a Girabola (first division) match on Friday night.
The stampede coincided with a goal in the seventh minute of the game, scored by the visitors; however, as no official timeline of the events surrounding the stampede has been released by either the police or football officials, it is unclear whether it was this goal that sparked a surge at the already crowded entrance, or if those manning the entrance just decided to let people in.
“When they gave the opportunity for everyone to come in, we were all packed at the gate,” said Domingos Vika, a survivor who fractured his hand in the stampede.
According to another witness, the ‘opportunity’ seems to have been the police being overwhelmed by the surge of people forward.
“There were only two policemen in the place and people started pushing until the gate gave way,” revealed Castigo Olavo.
“There had been a push that led to the suffocation of people. Some people had to walk on the top of other people,” stated the director of a local hospital.
In addition to the 17 fatalities, 78 people were injured, including 5 who are nursing life-threatening injuries.
Inspected on Sunday
Santa Rita de Cassia was founded in August 2015, and this is its debut appearance in the Girabola tournament.
On Sunday a team of inspectors from Angola’s football federation, FAF, inspected the January 4 Stadium to determine its capability to host matches.
The inspectors approved of its use, but with specific recommendations that needed to be implemented within three days.
Among other things, these recommendations called for an alteration in how the main gates opened [Pt], in addition to enhancing the stadium’s security by involving police.
With a witness claiming that there were only two police officers for a stadium with a capacity of 5,000, it seems doubtful that the changes were implemented.
President Eduardo dos Santos has ordered an investigation into the stampede.