AFCON 2022 stampede in Cameroon causes eight deaths as investigations opened

The African Football Confederation has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a deadly stampede at the Stade d’Olembe in Yaoundé, Cameroon, ahead of a 2022 Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 match on January 24 between host Cameroon and Comoros.

Initial reports of six deaths, which circulated in the immediate aftermath of the encounter, have now been updated to eight deaths in a government statement, while the names of some of the victims have begun to emerge.

“The first summary of the stampede is that there are eight dead and 38 injured, of which 31 have minor injuries and seven serious,” reads a statement from the Ministry of Communication.

“The deceased were taken to the Yaoundé Emergency Center for the corresponding procedures, while the injured were sent to four different health centers in the city of Yaoundé.

“They [health centers] they were immediately alerted following instructions from the President of the Republic Paul Biya”.

What happened to stampede fans in Cameroon?

Local authorities made clear to GOAL immediately after the incident how fans attempted to enter the stadium when security personnel attempted to move a barrier at the south entrance of the stadium.

Fans closest to the gate were trampled by those trying to enter the arena. Some injured fans were still being transported to hospitals from the stadium’s medical center as late as three and a half hours after kick-off, while other victims had been treated in the stadium’s player treatment room.

“Faced with this drama, whose seriousness creates emotion and consternation, the Head of State sends his saddest condolences to the families that have been hardly affected, while wishing a speedy recovery to the injured, to whom he conveys the deepest compassion. from across the nation,” the statement continued.

The government also confirmed the launch of an investigation into the incident, and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced that it was launching its own investigation into the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.

The Cameroonian government has asked fans to show “a sense of responsibility, discipline and civility from all for the success of this important sporting event”.

“CAF is aware of the incident that took place at Olembe Stadium during the TotalEnergies African Cup of Nations match between hosts Cameroon and Comoros tonight, January 24, 2022,” read a statement from CAF’s governing body. african soccer.

“CAF is currently investigating the situation and trying to get more details about what happened. We are in constant communication with the government of Cameroon and the Local Organizing Committee.”

CAF Secretary General Veron Mosengo-Omba visited supporters hospitalized in Yaoundé in the hours after the crowd.

Officials at Yaoundé’s Messassi Hospital told the AP that at least 40 injured had been taken to their facility, while the local gendarmerie confirmed to GOAL that the deaths and injuries occurred when fans trying to enter the stadium crushed those who had fallen in front of the stadium. to them. .

GOAL at the scene witnessed Red Cross doctors treating patients who were involved in the crush. A young teenage supporter was wheeled from the players’ medical room to a waiting ambulance on a stretcher, before being taken to a nearby medical facility.

The stadium’s medical staff appeared in various states of anguish after the incident, but could only share their hope that the victims who were transported to hospital in time would receive the treatment they needed to survive.

FIFA has also sent its condolences to those affected by the tragedy, offering the “thoughts and prayers of the world football community” to the victims, injured and staff involved in the incident.

“There was the kind of stampede that we witness everywhere where there are these kinds of large crowd movements,” AFCON Organizing Committee spokesman Abel Mbengue said. according to L’Equipe. “We are waiting for reliable information about the victims.”

The 60,000-seat stadium had a reduced capacity of 50,000 for the match, with the arena operating at 80 per cent due to restrictions put in place ahead of the competition in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Other matches in the tournament not involving host Cameroon were set at 60 percent capacity.

The round of 16 match went according to schedule and Cameroon beat Comoros 2-1 to advance to the quarterfinals, where they will face Gambia in Douala on January 29.

The tragedy at the Stade d’Olembe came less than 48 hours after at least 17 people were killed in a nightclub fire.