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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, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Relatives besiege Ghana hospitals
Dead bodies are lined up the Ridge Hospital
Ghanaians are shocked at the scale of the tragedy
Distraught relatives are besieging hospitals in the Ghanaian capital after at least 126 football fans in African sports worst tragedy.

Emotional relatives searched hospital morgues to try to identify their loved ones.

Scuffles broke out with security personnel trying to hold them back.

My three brothers travelled from Kumasi to Accra to watch the match... They are my everything

Mary Sarah
Police over-reaction is being blamed for the deaths at the Accra Sports Stadium during a match between two of the country's leading teams.

The Ghanaian police say they are now investigating their operations there.

The authorities have also announced three days of mourning and an inquiry into the disaster. The football authorities have suspended indefinitely all premier league matches.

Grieving relatives

The desperate relatives lined up outside hospital wards and morgues, hoping to find information on family members and friends.

"My three brothers travelled from Kumasi to Accra to watch the match," said Mary Sarah, who spent the night waiting in front of the morgue.

Accra stadium
Police action led to panic
"After the news of the incident, I called the Kumasi home, but the phone rang and rang and rang ... They are my everything, " she said.

The few who managed to enter the morgue wept as they identified the dead.

"I heard yesterday that my son was at the mortuary but I couldn't believe it. I've just seen him for myself and I still can't believe it," wept Hajia Sisi Serena, after identifying the body of her 28-year-old son.

Fatal stampede

The tragedy took place during a face-off between arch rivals Accra Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko of Kumasi.

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
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.

"I am shocked and terrified at the heavy casualty toll from what simply started as unruly behaviour from a handful of people," Hearts of Oak captain, Jacob Nettey, said.

A police spokesman said no colleagues would be protected from the investigations.

"I can assure you that no officer will be shielded if found guilty of unprofessionalism," police inspector-general Ernest Owusu Poku said.

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.

Football's governing body, FIFA, says the tragedies will not affect plans to hold the 2010 World Cup in Africa.

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See also:

09 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Ghana
10 May 01 | Africa
Disasters cast World Cup shadow
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