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The BBC's Fergus Nicoll
"Criticism has focussed on the tactics of the police"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jane Standley
"This is the fourth such tragedy in Africa in less than a month"
 real 28k

Ghanaian Chronicle's Kofi Coomson
"The mortuaries are overflowing"
 real 28k

Stan Dogbe, of Joy FM radio station in Accra
was at the match
 real 28k

Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Ghana mourns after football tragedy
Injured football fan
Scores of fans were treated at several hospitals
Police over-reaction is being blamed for what is thought to be the worst tragedy in African sporting history - the deaths of at least 126 fans at a football match in the Ghanaian capital.

Distraught relatives have been travelling to the scene of the disaster and to local hospitals to find their loved ones.

Ghana's President John Kufuor has called an emergency cabinet meeting and a national state of mourning is expected to be declared.

Witnesses blame police for triggering a fatal stampede by firing tear gas in an attempt to quell violence at the game between the country's two top clubs, Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko.

Everybody is devastated, everyone is just shell-shocked

Deputy sports minister Joe Aggrey
The tragedy at the Accra Sports Stadium is thought to be the worst in African sporting history, and was the fourth incident of its kind in Africa in less than a month.

The game had about five minutes left when Kotoko fans - whose team were losing 2-1 - started ripping off chairs from one stand and hurling them onto the pitch.

Police used tear gas in an effort to control the crowd, but this appears to have created panic and led to a stampede.

The gates to the 40,000 capacity ground were reportedly locked shut.

Dead young men

Victims of Ghana worst sporting tragedy that has claimed 124 lives
It is believed that the stampede started after the police fired tear gas to control the crowd

"I saw young men, young virile men, lying dead on the floor. I'm devastated. I couldn't count (the dead)," said Ghana's Deputy Sports Minister, Joe Aggrey.

Referring to the action taken by the police, he added: "From the information that I have, I think the lack of control - and I don't want to prejudge the situation but - I think that it was the tear gas that caused the problem."

"The fighting started when supporters started breaking the chairs and throwing the pieces onto the pitch," said one supporter.

He added: "The police started firing tear gas into the stands ... what saved me was I just moved my shirt and used it to cover my mouth."

Police have sealed off the stadium, where a few unclaimed cars remian in the car park. The stairs leading to the stands are stained with blood.


President Kufuor, his vice president and other cabinet ministers spent much of Wednesday evening visiting the four main hospitals where the victims had been taken.

Football tragedies
6 May: One killed, 39 injured in riots at Abidjan derby match
29 April: 14 killed in stampede in DR Congo
11 April: 43 killed in stampede at South Africa's Ellis Park stadium
"Some died of suffocation, but the majority seem to have been killed by being crushed," said Brigadier Daniel Twum of the Thirty-Seven Military Hospital where most of the dead and injured were taken after the stampede.

Trouble had been anticipated ahead of the game, and the authorities had taken extra security measures to prevent the disaster.

Football stadiums in Africa are often old and poorly regulated. Alcohol is not banned, and police have little training in effective crowd control.

The latest football tragedy follows three similar disasters in South Africa, DR Congo and the Ivory Coast, in the last month.

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09 May 01 | Africa
Tragedy at Ghana football match
09 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Ghana
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