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Forty-three die in soccer stampede

stampede
Emergency workers treated injured fans on the pitch  

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- At least 43 people have been killed at a football match between South Africa's two biggest teams.

The stampede began as a crowd tried to get into Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg to watch the match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

President Thabo Mbeki's office promised an urgent inquiry into what is South Africa's worst accident in sporting history.

"The president expresses his sincere condolences to the bereaved on behalf of South Africa," his spokeswoman Tasneem Carrim said.

  AUDIO
McMullan

Eyewitness Michael McMullan: The crowd just kept coming

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CNN's Charlayne Hunter Gault: Tickets were oversold

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S. African Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour: People were crushed

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Eyewitness Michael Mcmullan said the stampede began when soccer fans rushed into the stadium.

"All of a sudden you could tell it got bad, people started overflowing into the crowd on either side," he told CNN.

"The people at the front were just yelling for them to go back but it wasn't registering and suddenly it bottled up.

Mcmullan said officials later opened the fence onto the pitch to relieve some of the pressure.

"Then they started hauling bodies out of the aisles. They were just bringing lifeless bodies onto the pitch and lined them up behind the goal posts," he said.

CNN correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault said the stadium holds up to 80,000 people but for the crunch Chiefs vs Pirates game many people were seated two to a seat.

"People were running around outside looking for the people they had come with. There were 14 bodies outside the stadium, including women and children," she said.

"We're stunned, we're shocked and we're sending our condolences to those families. Whatever will need to be done we'll do," he said, adding that he would be speaking to the country's football authorities on Thursday. "This type of thing should not have happened."

injured
Victims of the stampede treated on the pitch  

South African Minister of Sport Ngconde Balfour told CNN that medics and police were in the stadium and ferrying the injured to hospital.

A live broadcast by South African Broadcasting Corporation from the stadium showed bodies scattered inside and outside the stadium.

Emergency vehicles outside the stadium were unable to move amid the soccer traffic.

Police had earlier fired tear gas at people stampeding outside the stadium.

Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED SITES:
South African Government
South African Broadcasting Corporation

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