Dozens of fans have been injured and at least six are reported to be dead after a crush occurred outside Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon, at the host nation’s Africa Cup of Nations match against Comoros.
Victims are understood to have been admitted to the city’s Messassi hospital after the incident, which occurred as supporters attempted to gain access to the ground’s south entrance for the round-of-16 match. The circumstances, including whether the injuries occurred before kick-off or during the game, are unclear but a local official has said the crush had tragic consequences.
Naseri Paul Biya, governor of the central region of Cameroon, is reported by AP to have confirmed the number of casualties and suggested the number may rise. Hospital workers claim to have received at least 40 injured people who were involved.
“Some of the injured are in desperate condition,” said Olinga Prudence, a nurse. “We will have to evacuate them to a specialised hospital.”
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) said an incident had taken place and that they were trying to get further information. “Caf is currently investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired,” their statement read.
“We are in constant communication with [the] Cameroon government and the local organising committee. “Tonight the Caf president, Dr Patrice Motsepe, sent the General Secretary, Véron Mosengo-Omba, to visit the supporters in hospital in Yaoundé.”
One source with knowledge of the stadium’s layout suggested the quantity of entrances may have been inadequate for the number of people who attempted to gain access. Attention may focus on how many fans were able to approach the vicinity of the stand: Olembe Stadium has a capacity of 60,000 but, due to Covid-19 regulations, its capacity was capped at 80% – around 48,000 – for Cameroon’s fixtures.
Cameroon won the match 2-1 and will host Gambia in a quarter-final on Saturday. That match will take place in Douala but, should Cameroon win, they would be in line to play a semi-final and potential final at Olembe.
The stadium is also due to host a quarter-final on Sunday between the winner of Ivory Coast’s tie with Egypt and that of Morocco’s meeting with Malawi. Should the worst be confirmed, serious questions will be asked of its capability to host high-capacity events over the remainder of the tournament.