31 including children died in stampede in southern Nigeria

Around 30 people lost their lives in southern Nigeria on Saturday, 28 May, due to a stampede that erupted during a crowded church charity event.

Around 30 people lost their lives in southern Nigeria on Saturday, 28 May, due to a stampede that erupted during a crowded church charity event.

Police and witnesses stated that shoes and slippers were lying on the ground after the disaster took place in Port Harcourt city in southern Rivers State when several people were trying to force their way in the event where food was being distributed.

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The Rivers State police said that a local Kings Assembly church organisation was providing gifts and food for the malnourished at the Port Harcourt Polo Club when a huge crowd got out of control.

The police said in a statement, “Unfortunately, the crowd became wild and uncontrollable, and all efforts made by the organisers to bring sanity proved abortive.”

“A total of 31 persons died in the stampede.”

Witnesses described the scene and said that fierce pushing and trampling occurred as people trying to get inside the entrance were pushed back.

Eyewitness Chisom Nwachukwu said, “They told people ‘Go back, go back, go back. Some people that were forcing from backwards were marching on those people.”

Police have launched a criminal investigation to dig deep into this disaster.

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Coordinator Godwin Tepikor of the National Emergency Management Agency southern region said that church members had been placed inside when the crowd of people rushed in.

He said, “A huge crowd from outside rushed into the club via a narrow gate, resulting in the stampede.”

In recent years, Nigeria had witnessed many stampede strategies over food distribution, including an aid agency food programme held in north Borno State when seven women were trampled to death in 2021.

“People were there earlier, and some got intolerant and started rushing, which led to stampeding,” said police spokesperson Grace Iringe-Koko. “The police are on the scene monitoring the circumstances while the investigation is continuing.”

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