Africa suffered its worst football disaster ever, and its third in a month, when at least 120 people were killed in a stampede at a soccer match in Ghana.
Spectators said the crowd stampeded when police fired teargas after fans hurled missiles near the end of a game Wednesday between Accra team Hearts of Oak and arch-rivals Asante Kotoko from the central town of Kumasi.
The stampede occurred at the end of a match between Hearts of Oak and their arch-rivals Kumasi Asante Kotoko at Accra's main stadium.
Private radio station, Joy FM, said that with Hearts of Oak leading, 2-1, five minutes before the final whistle, Kumasi Asante Kotoko fans began tearing up plastic stadium chairs and throwing chunks of them onto the field.
The police reacted by firing tear gas into the crowd, triggering the stampede, the radio said.
Harry Zakour, chief executive of the Hearts of Oak team, told local Metro TV: "I think the police shot too much tear gas. It was unnecessary."
The chief of staff of the state presidency, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, described the stampede as "a great tragedy."
"It's important for people to stay calm because relations and friends of the injured and the dead are preventing doctors from working," Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey told Joy FM, adding that an investigation would be made.
On April 11, 43 soccer fans were crushed to death when soccer fans tried to force their way into Ellis Park in Johannesburg during a match between the Kaizer Chiefs and the Orlando Pirates.
At least 7 people were killed and 51 seriously injured in an April 30 stampede in Congo after police moved to break up rioting at a match in Lubumbashi.
Deadly soccer violence has struck Africa repeatedly over the past decade.
In 1996, at least seven people were killed during a stampede at a Zambia-Sudan World Cup qualifiers' match in Lusaka.
Forty people died outside Johannesburg in 1991 after being crushed against a stadium fence, trampled underfoot or stabbed as thousands of fans surged toward a jammed exit to escape rival brawling spectators – (Reuters)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )