Stampede Kills 31 People During Congo Army Recruitment Drive

Officials in the Republic of Congo’s capital claimed Tuesday that at least 31 individuals were trampled to death in a frenzied rush to get through a stadium gate for an army recruiting event.

A prosecutor said he had begun a probe into the incident, which occurred on Monday night when thousands of young people came on the Michel d’Ornano stadium in search of one of 1,500 army positions.

According to security personnel, the bodies were abandoned after people attempted to rush through one gate.

Some attempted to push the gate open, while others attempted to jump over a wall into the stadium.

The government reduced the death toll from 37 to 31, but officials said many of the 145 injured were in critical condition.

A 24-year-old male, who did not want to be identified, told AFP that individuals were pushing their way past the gate, causing a rush. “There were people injured far worse than me,” stated the survivor, who had his foot dislocated.

Another survivor, who also requested anonymity, said: “There was a row of people in front of me. The people fell. I fell on top of them and other friends fell on top of us.”

He said he lost conscious and only woke up in an ambulance.

Several videos on social media appeared to show dozens of bodies in a city morgue.

Others showed injured people being admitted to hospitals in Brazzaville.

The army announced on national television that the recruiting drive had been halted indefinitely.

Tresor Nzila, the head of a local rights NGO, demanded a thorough inquiry and held the Congolese government accountable for failing to assess the consequences of a call-up.

“The Congolese government is incapable of creating other employment opportunities,” the minister stated. “The defence and security forces have become the main job providers” .

Despite its significant oil and gas deposits, the Republic of Congo, commonly known as Congo-Brazzaville to distinguish it from its larger neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a poor country of around five million inhabitants.

Youth unemployment is about 42 percent, according to the World Bank.

Andre Ngakala Oko, the state prosecutor of Congo-Brazzaville, said he had opened an investigation.

Similar calamities have occurred in Congo. In 2011, seven individuals were killed in a stampede at a music festival in Brazzaville.

In 1994, worshippers packed into a church to flee a storm killed at least 150 people in the capital.

Written by PH

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