8 suffocated during soccer match in Liberia

June 1, 2008 2:22:52 PM PDT
At least eight people suffocated at an overcrowded stadium during a soccer match between Liberia and Gambia on Sunday, a doctor and an aid worker said.

The 33,000-seat Samuel K. Doe stadium in Monrovia was packed beyond capacity for the World Cup qualifying match.

The rowdy crowd pushed up against a metal bar, causing the bar to snap and sending dozens of people careening onto the floor below. They fell onto others at the game, crushing them.

"Spectators tried all sorts of means to save (them), but could not help," said Liberian Red Cross rescue worker Emmanuel Johnson.

Hours before the start of the match, United Nations peacekeepers had closed the gates of the stadium when it became clear that the stadium was already beyond capacity.

Thousands of people entered using fraudulent tickets, stranding real ticket holders outside. Stadium officials could not differentiate between the real and fake tickets and already had allowed too many people to enter before they realized their mistake.

The Liberian Football Association's chief doctor Sam Harris said the bodies of the eight dead were taken to the country's main hospital.

Johnson put the death toll at 10. There was no immediate way to reconcile the conflicting tolls.


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