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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 September, 2004, 13:08 GMT 14:08 UK
Three die in Saudi shop stampede
Ikea, Saudi Arabia
IKEA employees carry an injured man out of the furniture shop
A stampede of hundreds of shoppers in western Saudi Arabia has left at least three people crushed to death.

A Saudi man and a Pakistani man were among those killed, officials in the port city of Jeddah said.

The incident occurred after shoppers rushed into a branch of Ikea to claim a limited number of credit vouchers being offered to the public.

More than 8,000 people had gathered near the store for the $150 vouchers, some of them having camped overnight.

The nationality of the third person killed was not given. Sixteen people were injured.

Ikea opened its doors at 0900 local time (0600 GMT), one hour ahead of the allotted tine, because of the large numbers of people who had gathered outside the store.

One shopper among the crowd said barriers had broken and security guards were unable to cope. He likened the scene to crowds at a rock concert and said he'd never seen anything similar in the country before.

Saudi press reports said the vouchers offer was part of a major revamp of Ikea in Saudi Arabia, with two brand new stores opening simultaneously in Jeddah and the capital Riyadh.

Reports say the new showrooms have 200% more space than the old stores.

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