Deadly Africa Cup of Nations stampede

A deadly crowd stampede has occurred outside the stadium hosting Cameroon's match against Comoros.
A deadly crowd stampede has occurred outside the stadium hosting Cameroon's match against Comoros.

The deaths of at least eight people in a stampede outside a stadium hosting the Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 match between hosts Cameroon and Comoros has further rocked the troubled tournament.

At least another 38 people were reported to have been injured as spectators rushed to get into the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde, as the event beset by problems lurched into further crisis.

It is, however, expected to continue with last-16 matches scheduled on Tuesday in Bafoussam and in Yaounde, at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.

Team officials told Reuters they had not been advised otherwise.

Images shared on social media, which Reuters could not immediately authenticate, showed screaming fans being crushed at an entrance gate.

There were also images of spectators streaming into the stadium on Monday through a small gap, and eye witnesses said many attempted to scale walls or push down gates to gain access.

The casualties were confirmed in a government statement and the Confederation of African Football has started an investigation.

"CAF is currently investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired. We are in constant communication with Cameroon government and the Local Organising Committee," the ruling body said.

World governing body FIFA issued a statement in relation to the incident.

"FIFA sends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives following the tragic incident that took place at Olembe Stadium during the Africa Cup of Nations fixture between Cameroon and Comoros," the statement read.

The new 60,000-seater Olembe Stadium, which hosted the opening game and is scheduled to stage the final on February 6, had been the subject of controversy with works continuing right up to the start of the tournament.

CAF was so concerned about the readiness of the venue, plus Cameroon's general lack of preparations, that it held an emergency meeting last month to discuss cancelling the tournament.

Stadiums have been operating at 80 per cent capacity during the AFCON due to restrictions placed on organisers because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This edition of the African championship, the continent's biggest sporting event, was twice postponed, in 2019 when CAF found Cameroon was not ready and moved it to Egypt, and again last January because of the pandemic.

Australian Associated Press