Stampede kills 12 football fans

A stampede in Zambia killed 12 soccer fans and injured many others after a match between the home team and Congo Brazaville late on Saturday, police said on Sunday.

Copperbelt police chief Antonnell Mutentwa told Reuters 46 soccer fans were injured and admitted in hospital in the copper mining town bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 450 km north of Lusaka.

Mutentwa said fans were trampled underfoot by fellow soccer supporters as they rushed to leave the stadium after Zambia beat Congo Brazaville 3-0 in an African Cup qualifier.

Mutentwa said the cause of the stampede was unclear, though one witness said it had been caused by people rushing to get aboard free transport. Police launched an investigation.

Some people were kept at the Konkola mine hospital with serious injuries, while 26 others were discharged after receiving treatment, Mutentwa said.

"Some fans suffered serious injuries and are still in hospital for treatment and observation while those with minor injuries were treated and later discharged last night," he added.

Zambia played Congo in a must-win game in Chililabombwe to revive hopes of qualifying for the final rounds in Ghana. Its largest stadium, in the capital Lusaka, had been declared unfit by the government to host international matches.

A witness told Reuters by telephone from the nearby town of Kitwe that the stampede occurred when fans started to rush out for buses which had been provided to ferry soccer fans from other parts of the mineral-rich region.

"There was a rush for free transport which took place and caused a major backlash which led to the deaths of the soccer fans," the witness said.

In 1997, 10 soccer fans died in a stampede at the Independence Stadium in Lusaka after Zambia beat Sudan 3-0 in a World Cup qualifying match for France in 1998. That disaster was triggered by a supporter who told other fans there was a bomb about to explode in the stadium.
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