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Page last updated at 23:20 GMT, Sunday, 29 March 2009 00:20 UK

Ivorian stadium stampede kills 22

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People came to the stadium without tickets

At least 22 people have died in a crush at a football stadium during a World Cup qualifier in Ivory Coast.

More than 130 people were injured in the stampede at the Houphouet-Boigny arena in the West African country's city of Abidjan.

About 36,000 spectators were in the stadium, where hosts Ivory Coast beat Malawi 5-0.

The BBC's John James says it was packed for the return of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, who scored twice.

Our correspondent says the authorities tried in vain to control the panicking crowd. One report said the police had fired tear gas to control the stampeding fans.

Wall collapses

The ministry of sport and the Ivorian Football Federation have confirmed the number of deaths and say the incident occurred when thousands of fans tried to squeeze into the city's main stadium.

Police carry an injured person at Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan on 29 March 2009
The stadium was packed for the return of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba

A wall collapsed, reportedly under the weight of the supporters, causing those already trying to squeeze into the stadium to panic.

Interior Minister Desire Tagro told state television: "Lots of fans showed up," reported AP news agency.

"They started pushing to get in because the match was about to start and each and every one of them wanted to get in."

The incident occurred before the game began but the fixture was allowed to go ahead.

The stadium was reportedly sold out in advance of the game after cut-price tickets went on sale.

AFRICA FOOTBALL DISORDER
May 2008:Two-day riot over club's relegation in Algerian city
May 2001: Stadium crush in Ghana's capital Accra kills 126
April 2001: Match stampede at Congolese city leaves 14 dead
April 2001: Crush at Ellis Park in Johannesburg leaves 43 dead
July 2001:Disorder at World Cup qualifier in Zimbabwe kills 13

The arena has just been refurbished but our correspondent says at this stage it seems the sheer number of people who wanted to get into the match proved too much.

Other European-based stars playing in Sunday's game were Drogba's Chelsea team-mate Salomon Kalou, as well as Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue of Arsenal.

The home side also featured Tottenham's Didier Zokora, Sevilla's Ndri Romaric and Marseille forward Bakari Kone.

Hundreds of fans have died during riots and stampedes at football games across Africa over the last decade.

Correspondents say poorly-equipped security forces are often unable to control the crowds.



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SEE ALSO
Country profile: Ivory Coast
05 Nov 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Most deadly stampedes
04 Mar 10 |  South Asia
Drogba included in Ivorian squad
04 Feb 09 |  African
Breakdown of 2010 World Cup draw
22 Oct 08 |  African

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