Mourners Killed In Stampede At Iran General’s Funeral

Iranian mourners gather around a vehicle carrying the coffin of slain top general Qasem Soleimani during the final stage of funeral processions, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020.  AFP

 

A stampede broke out Tuesday at the funeral of a top Iranian general killed in a US drone strike, leaving more than 30 people dead as huge crowds of mourners packed his hometown.

The crush in the southeastern city of Kerman came as Iran prepared to bury Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani, a hugely popular figure in the Islamic republic.

“Unfortunately because of overcrowding 32 of our citizens lost their lives in the procession… and 190 were injured,” the head of the country’s emergency services, Pirhossein Koolivand, told state television.

The injured were immediately transferred to hospital, he added.

AFP correspondents in Kerman said the streets were packed with mourners, while others took refuge on hillsides around the city.

Soleimani, the head of the Guards’ Quds Force foreign operations arm, was assassinated on Friday in a US strike near Baghdad international airport, an operation that shocked Iran.

“The enemy killed him unjustly,” the Revolutionary Guards’ top commander, Major General Hossein Salami said, adding the process of “expelling the United States from the region has begun”.

“Our will is firm. We also tell our enemies that we will take revenge, and that if they (strike again) we will set fire to what they love,” he told the sea of black-clad mourners.

“They themselves know well what places I am talking about.”

Schoolgirls joined chants of “Death to Trump” from the crowd, an AFP correspondent reported.

Tuesday’s funeral comes after days of processions through the southwestern city of Ahvaz and the shrine cities of Qom and Mashhad as well as the capital Tehran.

The assassination of Soleimani set off an escalating war of words between Iran and the United States.

In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani on Monday warned Trump to “never threaten” Iran, after the US leader issued a US strike list of 52 targets in the Islamic republic.

On Tuesday, Iranian lawmakers voted to designate all US forces around the world “terrorists” over Soleimani’s killing.

Parliament also agreed to bolster the coffers of the Quds Force, which Soleimani led, by $244 million (200 million euros).

‘Boils the blood’ 

In Kerman, people converged from afar on Azadi Square where two flag-draped coffins were on display, with the second one reportedly containing the remains of Soleimani’s closest aide, Brigadier General Hossein Pourjafari.

“We’re here today to pay respects to the great commander of the holy defence,” said one of the mourners who came from the southern city of Shiraz to attend the funeral in Kerman.

“Haj Qasem was not only loved in Kerman, or Iran, but also the whole world,” Hemmat Dehghan told AFP.

“The security of the whole world, Muslims, Shiites, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and especially Iran, all owe it to him,” said the 56-year-old war veteran.

Another mourner said Soleimani’s assassination “boils the blood of the Iranian people”.

“He was seen as a great man who was ready to serve his people both then in the war and now. He must certainly be avenged,” said Sara Khaksar, an 18-year-old student.

Friday’s assassination of the 62-year-old Soleimani heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile Middle East.

Iraq’s parliament has demanded the government expel the 5,200 American troops stationed in the country in response to the drone attack which also killed top Iraqi military figure Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Baghdad requested in a letter to the UN — seen by AFP — that the Security Council condemn the US strike so that “the law of the jungle” is not allowed to prevail.

The operation represented “a dangerous escalation that could lead to a devastating war in Iraq, the region and the world,” wrote Iraq’s UN ambassador Mohammed Hussein Bahr-Aluloom.

 Markets on edge 

On Sunday night, the US mistakenly notified the Iraq of an imminent troop pullout in a letter that sparked confusion in Washington.

“We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure,” said the letter, whose authenticity was confirmed to AFP by both Iraqi and US defence officials.

In the letter, US Brigadier General William Seely said the US-led coalition would “be repositioning forces”.

But Pentagon Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley said the letter was a mere “draft” that was sent by mistake.

Germany said Tuesday it was withdrawing some of its troops deployed as the anti-IS coalition in Iraq.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned on Monday that Iran must avoid “further violence and provocations”.

The European Union, whose foreign ministers will hold emergency talks on the crisis Friday, said it was in both Iran and Iraq’s interests to “take the path of sobriety and not the path of escalation”.

Saudi Arabia — an oil-rich US ally seen as vulnerable to Iranian counter strikes — also appealed for calm after a “very dangerous” escalation.

World financial markets have been on edge over the crisis.

“The new year has started with a bang in so far as volatility is concerned,” said Fawad Razaqzada at Forex.com.

“This is mainly due to the escalation of tensions between the US and Iran after Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani.”

Soleimani is expected to be buried at the martyrs’ cemetery in Kerman between 2:00 and 4:00 pm (1030 and 1230 GMT).

AFP

Three Sentenced To Prison Over Algeria Concert Stampede Deaths

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud

 

An Algerian court has handed three people prison sentences for “negligence” over a deadly stampede at an August concert, a judicial source told AFP Thursday.

Five people aged between 13 and 22 were killed and more than 80 injured on August 22 when fans thronged an entrance of a stadium in Algiers where France-based rapper Soolking was performing.

Samy Benchikh, the former head of Algeria’s public body for organising concerts, was sentenced to six months in prison, with three months suspended, a judicial source said on condition of anonymity.

The manager of a ticket company was handed six months in jail with four months suspended, and the same sentence was handed to the head of the company handling security at the event.

All three were charged with “negligence” after the court dropped manslaughter charges, the judicial source added.

Eleven security guards also on trial were released.

The incident forced culture minister Meriem Merdaci to resign and led to the sacking of Benchikh and Algeria’s police chief, Abdelkader Kara Bouhadba.

Soolking, 29, is a major star in Algeria, and his song “La Liberte” (Freedom) became a mainstay of the anti-government protest movement that has swept Algeria since February.

The choice of the August-20 stadium, one of the country’s oldest, to host the rapper’s sole planned concert in Algeria since his international career took off in 2018, was heavily criticised, in particular by families of the victims.

The day of the concert, large numbers of spectators were still waiting to enter shortly before the show began, and fears of not being able to enter reportedly sparked the stampede.

Algeria’s Minister Resigns After Deadly Stampede

 

Algeria’s Culture Minister Meriem Merdaci resigned Saturday, following the deaths of five young music fans in a stampede at a packed concert by rapper Soolking in the capital, the president’s office announced.

It said Merdaci handed her resignation to interim president Abdelkader Bensalah “who accepted it”.

On Friday, prime minister Noureddine Bedoui fired the head of ONDA (the National Office of Copyright and Neighbouring Rights), the public authority in charge of organising concerts. An investigation has been opened.

READ ALSO: Three Killed In Libya’s Air Raid

Thursday night’s stampede that killed five people aged between 13 and 22 came as fans thronged an entrance of the August-20 Stadium in Algiers where France-based Soolking was performing.

The 29-year-old is a major star in the North African country, his song “La Liberte” (Freedom) becoming a mainstay of anti-government protests that entered their seventh month on Friday.

AFP

India Stampede Leaves At Least 14 Dead

Indian flag

At least 14 people were killed and dozens injured in a stampede at a religious gathering in northern India Sunday, after strong winds caused a large marquee to collapse.

More than a thousand people were at the event in Rajasthan state, where Hindu religious sermons were being given.

“There was a stampede and it appears some iron pipes also fell causing grievous injuries,” senior police officer Khinv Singh told AFP.

READ ALSO: US Envoy Calls For De-Escalation Of Iran Tension

He said at least 60 people were injured.

Police have launched an investigation to see if rules were flouted by organisers.

Photos showed wires, pipes and step ladders lying scattered about the venue.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was quoted by his office as saying the incident was “unfortunate” and wishing the injured a quick recovery.

Stampedes are common at India’s religious gatherings with police and volunteer stewards often overwhelmed by large crowds.

AFP

Four Killed During Stampede At Buhari’s Rally In Rivers

A crowd of supporters at the Presidential campaign rally of the APC on Tuesday. Source: Bayo Omoboriowo

 

Four persons have been killed during a stampede at the presidential campaign rally of the All Progressives Congress in Portharcourt, Rivers State.

The Spokesman for the Rivers Police, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed this to Channels Television on Tuesday.

Read Also: ‘I Am Very Disturbed’, Buhari Reacts To Exclusion Of APC From Elections In Rivers

According to him, four others who sustained injuries are currently receiving treatment at a hospital.

The incident was said to have occurred while people were trying to exit the Adoki Amasiemeka stadium after the rally which took place on Tuesday.

Children, Others Die In Stampede After Angolan Football Match

Angola football fans (file)

 

Two children and three adults were killed in a stampede at a weekend football match in the Angolan capital Luanda, sparking an investigation, authorities said Monday.

The crush occurred Saturday as fans were leaving the CAF Champions League quarter-final match between Primeiro Agosto of Angola and TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the sports ministry said.

The incident “caused the death by asphyxiation of five supporters and caused seven injuries at the end of the match,” the ministry said in a statement.

The two children were aged 10 and 12, it said.

One survivor who gave his name only as Nemo, speaking to TV channel Zimbo from his hospital bed, said: “The exit door was very small, many people fell.”

The history of African football is marked by frequent deadly crowd stampedes. In Angola in February 2017, 17 people were killed and 58 injured near the northern town of Uige ahead of a season-opening match for the national championship.

Earlier this month, at least one person was killed and 37 injured in a stampede ahead of an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo.

And in July last year, eight people were killed when rival supporters clashed during Senegal’s League Cup final, and a stampede caused a wall to fall on escaping fans.

The scramble came after police used tear gas to clear the area surrounding the stadium.

In 2009, 19 people died in the Ivorian economic capital Abidjan after a crush in a qualifying match for the 2010 World Cup between Ivory Coast and Malawi.

AFP

Two Die In Stampede At Indian Politician’s Funeral

Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi arrives to pay his respects to the remains of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party president M. Karunanidhi at Rajaji hall, in Chennai on August 8, 2018. Arun SANKAR / AFP

 

Indian police Wednesday used batons to drive back tens of thousands of mourners thronging the funeral of a revered regional politician, triggering a stampede that reportedly left two devotees dead.

Grieving supporters of Muthuvel Karunanidhi poured into the southeastern city of Chennai to pay last respects to the man who died Tuesday aged 94.

A sea of mourners swelled in the streets as the coffin was taken to its resting place in the Tamil Nadu state capital.

But there was a stampede as police pushed back against mourners as they strove for a final glimpse of Karunanidhi.

Two people were killed and others injured in the melee, Indian news outlets reported. Police officials contacted by AFP were unable to confirm the reports.

Tension had been building in the city after the state government Tuesday denied permission for the politician to be buried at the popular Marina beach.

Karunanidhi’s party, the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), approached the state’s highest court. It ruled that the five-time state chief minister should be buried next to his mentor C.N Annadurai at the seaside memorial.

Karunanidhi, a charismatic self-styled champion of the poor, reshaped regional politics through his opposition to high-caste hegemony and was idolised by legions of his supporters.

He earned the loyalty of many rural voters with a series of populist schemes and fiery speeches in support of the so-called backward castes.

A school dropout, Karunanidhi became involved in politics at a young age, spearheading the DMK party through 12 state elections, all of which he contested and won.

Affectionately called “Kalaignar” or scholar, he wrote reams of poems, lyrics and books and was a prolific screenwriter for the Tamil film industry.

AFP

Relatives Mourn Morocco Stampede Victims

Morgue workers in the coastal tourist town of Essaouira in western Morocco transport a bier carrying the body of one of the victims of a deadly crash, that took place in the nearby town of Sidi Boulaalam, out of the hospital for burial on November 20, 2017. FADEL SENNA / AFP

Mourning relatives on Monday started burying the victims of a stampede that killed 15 women during a food aid delivery near the popular tourist town of Essaouira on Morocco’s coast.

“It’s a tragedy,” said the husband of one of the victims, breaking down in tears after burying her.

Hundreds of women had gathered on Sunday at a marketplace in the village of Sidi Boulaalam, around 60 kilometres (35 miles) northeast of Essaouira, for an annual distribution of food aid organised by a benefactor from the region.

A witness told AFP that people had pushed and broken down barriers as they fought for food.

“If you fall, it’s over for you and you get trampled on,” one survivor said, speaking from a hospital bed.

“Nobody came to our aid, everyone was shouting for help,” she added.

Authorities have launched a probe into the tragedy, which also left 10 women injured.

At the morgue of Essaouira’s hospital, the scent of incense barely covered the stench of corpses wrapped in blankets.

Mohamed, a forensic doctor from Essaouira who preferred not to give his last name, said the bodies were “in a sorry state”.

“They had severe fractures, huge bruises on the body,” he said.

The families of the dead come to identify their relatives as ambulances waited to take the bodies away for burial.

“I hardly recognised my mother,” said Mjid, a son of one of the victims.

Habiba, a woman bundled up in a pink djellaba robe, a veil over her hair, said she had lost her big sister in the crush.

“She came to get oil and flour, but there were too many people. She fell and was trampled on,” the 57-year-old said.

The press and social media users have blamed Morocco’s glaring social and regional inequalities for the accident, calling it a “two-speed country”.

News website Medias 24 blamed poverty for the crush, calling it an “unprecedented tragedy”.

“People here are needy, there is no agriculture, no work,” Mjid said.

He moved from Sidi Boulaalam to commercial capital Casablanca as a young man, leaving behind a village of 8,000 people eking out a meagre living from their livestock, far from the developed infrastructure of Morocco’s main cities.

Provincial officials said arrangements had been made for the aid delivery, but “the crowd exceeded estimates”.

Khalid Azourar, a member of a local NGO, blamed the accident on a lack of organisation.

“Poverty is in people’s minds,” he said. “People do not know how to respect a queue”.

An official report in early October slammed severe poverty in rural areas of Morocco.

Medias 24 said Sidi Boulaalam was “one of the poorest” villages in the country.

Commuter Stampede Kills 22 In Mumbai

Indian pedestrians walk through the scene of a stampede on a railway bridge in Mumbai on September 29, 2017. Commuters stampeded on a Mumbai railway bridge during the morning rush hour September 29 killing at least 15 people, a disaster management official said.
PUNIT PARANJPE / AFP

A commuter stampede on a Mumbai railway bridge during the morning rush hour Friday killed at least 22 people, officials said.

Dozens of people took shelter on the bridge during a sudden monsoon downpour and the deadly crush started as they emerged all at once, Indian Railways spokesman Anil Saxena said.

Avinash Supe, a dean of KEM Hospital, told AFP there were 22 dead.

“There was a huge crowd on the FOB (foot overbridge). Everybody tried to leave at once and it appeared one of them slipped and fell, triggering the stampede,” Saxena told reporters.

The bridge connects the Elphinstone and Parel stations in south Mumbai.

The toll is likely to rise further, a disaster management cell spokesman warned. “It was the peak hour rush but the stampede has been brought under control,” Tanaji Kamble told AFP.

TV footage showed commuters trying to revive the injured by pumping their chests and also carrying some downstairs to street level.

“We put everybody who was injured in cars, police vans and ambulances and tried to take them to the hospital as quickly as possible,” said one witness.

“There were 3-4 women who were badly injured, I don’t know whether they survived.”

Local trains are the lifeline for the 20 million people of Mumbai. Some 7.5 million commuters take the train daily, with services running every three minutes on average.

Hundreds die every year due to losing their grip on the doors, falling while trying to get into packed compartments, hitting electric poles outside or doing stunts while hanging off the train.

Official figures say some 3,400 people died in 2016 either from falling off the trains or while crossing the tracks of what is the world’s most overcrowded suburban rail network.

Stampedes at India’s religious festivals are also common with police and volunteer stewards often overwhelmed by the sheer size of the crowds.

In January, six women died in West Bengal state and last year 24 people were killed after a stampede broke out in the Hindu holy town of Varanasi.

AFP

Crowd Violence Claims Eight Lives In Senegal Stadium

At least eight people were killed on Saturday in a stampede in a soccer stadium in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, during a match between two local teams, the sports minister said.

A fight broke out between fans of rivals US Ouakam and Stade de Mbour at the Demba Diop stadium and police fired tear gas to break it up. The resulting confusion triggered the stampede, Sports Minister Matar Ba told Reuters by telephone.

Deadly stampedes at soccer matches have been common in Africa, where safety standards are low. At least 17 people died and scores were injured in a stampede in a match in Angola in February when hundreds of supporters stormed the stadium.

Stampede Kills Four, Injures Dozens In Honduras

At least four people died in a stampede when hundreds of fans tried to break past barricades to get into a national soccer final match in Honduras, said emergency services officials.

According to a spokesman for the university hospital where the victims were taken, Miguel Osorio, four adults died while more than a dozen were injured, including children.

Capitan Oscar Triminio of the Honduran firefighter corps said 25 people were injured in the stampede.

The incident occurred on Sunday, just before the start of the match at the national stadium between teams Motagua and Honduras Progreso.

NHRC to Probe Immigration Recruitment Stampede

National-Human-Right-Commission-NHRC-logosThe National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has promised to investigate the circumstances that led to the death of some applicants in last weekend’s nationwide recruitment by the Nigeria Immigration Service.

The commission made the pledge after receiving a petition from a civil society group, Citizens’ Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights, CASER, in Abuja.

The Executive Director of Citizen’s Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights, CASER, Frank Tietie, while presenting the petition, said that the Nigeria Immigration Service was wrong to have invited thousands of Nigerians for an aptitude test when they had only 4,500 vacancies.

The Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Professor Bem Angwe, while promising to unravel the cause of the stampede that led to the loss of lives in some the recruitment centers, described the death of the applicants as a sad event that should not be allowed to repeat itself.

The National Human Rights Commission having promised to thoroughly investigate the incident, also promised to recommend punishment for those found culpable in the recruitment exercise.

The expectations of thousands of graduates waiting at the recruitment centres to get employment  into the Nigeria Immigration Service were cut short as a result of a stampede at different venues of the interview.

Seven persons; five women and two men lost their lives during the incident.