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Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 16:36 UK

Tanzania disco stampede arrests

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The managers of the hall in central Tanzania where a disco stampede killed at least 19 children aged under 13 have been arrested and questioned by police.

Reports say as many as 400 children were packed into the hall, twice the recommended number.

The event had been organised as part of the Eid al-Fitr festivities to mark the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan.

The regional police commander in Tabora town said the children began fainting because of lack of air.

Seventeen children, aged between five and 12, are still in hospital.

The president has extended his condolences to the families, and demanded that those responsible are brought to justice.

Cheap tickets

The stampede took place in the Tabora region, about 750km (470 miles) north-west of the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

The children were just shouting, many of them did not know exactly what was happening
Witness John Mbele

Witness John Mbele said he was passing in his car when he heard people shouting for help.

"I tried to organise some people to bring some children in the car and send them to hospital," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

"They were unconscious. The problem was there were not enough cars to take the children to the hospital," he said.

"Nobody was controlling the roads, a few police were there but they could not control the mass.

"The children were just shouting, many of them did not know exactly what was happening."

Tabora regional police commander Daudi Siasi was quoted as saying that the hall had a capacity of 200 but more than double that number were inside at the time of the disaster.

The hall was said to be overcrowded after cheap tickets had gone on sale.

Some of the victims are reported to be as young as five.

Tanzanian newspapers have described the tragedy as "the biggest in Tanzania's history" and "the worst-ever disaster during Eid al-Fitr".


SEE ALSO
Country profile: Tanzania
18 Jun 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Tanzania
18 Jun 08 |  Country profiles

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