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125 killed in Ghana soccer crush

ACCRA, Ghana -- Up to 125 people have been killed and hundreds injured in a stampede at a football stadium in Ghana.

Ghana Television journalist Francisca Ashietey-Odunton told CNN that the tragedy happened at the end of a match in Accra between premier league rivals.

She said there were reports that all the gates were locked.

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Teargas

Football Commentator Mark Gleeson: Use of tear gas caused deaths

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Ghana

Francisca Ashietey-Odunton, Ghana Television News: Criticism of police

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Many people were injured in the crush as some 70,000 spectators tried to get out of the stadium when police fired tear gas on people who were tearing up seats, she said.

Accra Hearts of Oak were leading 2-1 against Assante Kotoko with five minutes left in the game when some supporters began throwing bottles and chairs onto the field, witnesses said.

Police then fired tear gas, creating panic in the stands as spectators rushed to escape the gas, witnesses said.

"Some died of suffocation but the majority seem to have been killed by being crushed," Brigadier Daniel Twum, of the military hospital where most of the dead and injured were taken after the stampede, told the Reuters news agency.

President John Kufuor, clearly very shaken by the tragedy during a visit to the injured, told Reuters simply "this is really sad."

One of his officials said Kufuor screamed when he first heard the news.

An emergency cabinet meeting has been scheduled for later on Thursday and presidential aides said that a period of national mourning would be declared.

Minister of Presidential Affairs Jake Obetsebi-Amptey urged relatives to return home, telling the Associated Press news agency that they were crowding the hospital and creating problems.

"What is important now is to remain calm. It is a night for us to mourn and not a night to worsen an already bad situation with anger and impatience."

It was the fourth soccer disaster in Africa during the past month.

Forty-three people were killed on April 11 at a stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa. Another stampede on April 29 killed eight people in Lubumbashi, Congo.

On May 6, fighting broke out among fans at a soccer match in Ivory Coast, killing one person and injuring 39.



RELATED STORY:
Memorial held for stadium victims
April 15, 2001

RELATED SITES:
Ghana Football Association
Accra Hearts of Oak
Assante Kotoko

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