Thursday, September 21

At least 31 dead in a stampede at a church in Nigeria

At least 31 people have died this Saturday in a stampede that occurred at an event organized by a church in the city of Port Harcourt, in southern Nigeria, according to police reports.

The church, known as Kings Assembly, has called an event in which it has promised to give gifts and food to hundreds of parishioners who turned out this morning and broke a door, causing the stampede.

“There are 31 people who died,” the interim spokeswoman for the Rivers State Police (whose capital is Port Harcourt), Grace Iringe-Koko, told reporters.

“They were about to start the event at 09:00 in the morning (08:00 GMT) or so. But some people went there and broke into the place and entered. So people started running in and there was a stampede,” Iringe-Koko explained. The spokeswoman added that she “has begun the investigation to determine the causes of the incident.”

The event has occurred at the Polo Club of the city, where the church, seeing the number of people who had come, closed the door to prevent the entry of more people, according to witnesses told local media.

“The crowd outside became overwhelming and people forced the door open, causing a rush of people that caused the stampede. The distribution had not even started”, he told the newspaper The Nation a witness who has been identified as Effiong. “Many people died, others became unconscious and all were evacuated to hospital,” added Effiong.

Nigeria has suffered such events in the past, such as in February 2019, when at least 14 people were also killed in Port Harcourt and eight others were injured during a stampede following a campaign rally by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who was then running for to re-election.

Likewise, at least 28 people died and 200 were injured in November 2013 as a result of a stampede following a vigil at a religious center in the city of Ukeh, in the southern state of Anambra.