The Confederation of African Football has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a deadly stampede at the Stade d’Olembe in Yaounde, Cameroon prior to a 2022 Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16 match on Jan. 24 between host Cameroon and Comoros.
Initial reports of six deaths, which circulated in the immediate aftermath of the fixture, have now been updated to eight fatalities in a government statement, while the names of some of the victims have begun to emerge.
“The first summary of the stampede is that there are eight deaths and 38 injured, of whom 31 have light injuries and seven serious,” read a statement from the Ministry of Communication.
“The deceased were taken to the Emergency Center in Yaounde for appropriate formalities, while the injured were sent to four different health centers in the city of Yaounde.
“They [health centers] were immediately alerted following instructions from the President of the Republic Paul Biya.”
Official numbers released by Cameroon’s Ministry of Communication
— George Addo Jnr (@addojunr) January 25, 2022
What happened to cause fan stampede in Cameroon?
Local authorities clarified to GOAL in the immediate aftermath of the incident how supporters attempted to enter the arena when security personnel sought to move a barrier at the South Entrance of the stadium.
Fans closer to the gate were trampled beneath those who attempted to enter the arena. Some injured supporters were still being transported to hospitals from the stadium medical center up to three and a half hours after kickoff, while other victims had been treated in the players’ treatment room at the stadium.
Some of the things I witnessed at the Stade d’Olembe in Yaounde this evening.
One young teenager, hooked to an ECG machine, stretched to a medical facility over three hours after the match.
Red Cross medics worked until almost midnight trying to stabilise victims, save lives. pic.twitter.com/pEk8Xz6CbI
— Ed Dove (@EddyDove) January 25, 2022
“In light of this drama, the gravity of which creates emotion and consternation, the Chief of State addresses his saddest condolences to the families who have been hardly affected, while also wishing a quick recovery to the injured, to whom he passes the profound compassion of the whole nation,” continued the statement.
The government also confirmed the launch of an enquiry into the incident, and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced that it was beginning its own investigation into the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.
Cameroon’s government has called on fans to demonstrate “a sense of responsibility, discipline, and civility of all for the success of this major sporting party”.
“CAF is aware of the incident that took place at Olembe Stadium during the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations fixture between hosts Cameroon and Comoros tonight, 24 January 2022,” read a statement from African football’s governing body.
“CAF is currently investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired. We are in constant communication with Cameroon government and the Local Organizing Committee.”
CAF General Secretary Veron Mosengo-Omba visited hospitalized supporters in Yaounde in the hours following the crush.
Officials at Yaounde’s Messassi Hospital told the AP that at least 40 injured people had been transferred to their facility, while the local gendarmerie confirmed to GOAL that the deaths and injuries occurred when supporters attempting to enter the stadium crushed those who had fallen in front of them.
GOAL on the scene witnessed Red Cross medics attending to patients who found themselves involved in the crush. One young teenage supporter was wheeled from the players’ medical room to a waiting ambulance on a stretcher, before being taken to a nearby medical facility.
Medical staff at the stadium appeared in various states of distress in the aftermath of the incident, but were only able to share their hope that those victims who were transported to the hospital in time would receive the treatment they required to survive.
FIFA has also sent its condolences to those affected by the tragedy, offering the “thoughts and prayers of the global football community” to the victims, injured, and staff involved in the incident.
“There was the kind of stampede we witness everywhere where there are these kinds of large crowd movements,” AFCON Organizing Committee spokesperson Abel Mbengue said, as per L’Equipe. “We are waiting for reliable information on the victims.”
The 60,000-seat stadium had a reduced capacity of 50,000 for the match, with the arena operating at 80 percent due to restrictions installed ahead of the competition in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus. Other matches in the tournament not involving host Cameroon were set at 60 percent capacity.
The Round of 16 match proceeded as scheduled and Cameroon beat Comoros 2-1 to progress to the quarterfinals where it will meet Gambia in Douala on Jan. 29.
The tragedy at the Stade d’Olembe occurred less than 48 hours after at least 17 people were killed in a nightclub blaze.