More than 30 people have been killed after being trampled during a food distribution at a crowded church in southern Nigeria on Saturday.
Police and eyewitnesses said shoes and slippers were scattered on the ground when people tried to force their way into the event after the crash in the town of Port Harcourt in the southern Rivers State.
A local Kings Assembly church organization was giving food and gifts to the poor at the Port Harcourt Polo Club when a “mammoth” crowd got out of control, River State Police said.
“Unfortunately, the crowd became turbulent and uncontrollable, and all attempts to bring intelligence to the organizers proved unsuccessful,” police said in a statement.
A total of 31 people lost their lives due to being trampled
Pictures posted on social media and verified by AFP show families crying outside the city’s military hospital and caring for the injured, many of them children.
Eyewitnesses described the maniac being pushed and trampled because people trying to enter the entrance were forced out.
“They were telling people ‘go back, go back, go back,'” said eyewitness Chisom Navachuku. “Some people who were pushing from behind were marching on those people.”
A criminal investigation is underway, police said.
Godwin Tepico, the southern coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency, told AFP that church members were sitting inside when the crowd gathered.
“A huge crowd from outside entered the club through a narrow gate, resulting in trampling,” he said.
Church representatives could not be reached for comment.
Nigeria has seen a number of tragic tragedies over food distribution in recent years, including the food program of an aid agency in the northern state of Borno where seven women were trampled last year.
Disaster struck early Saturday as leaders of the opposition People’s Democratic Party gathered in the federal capital, Abuja, to pick their candidates for the 2023 presidency, with River State Governor Eisenhower Nysom Wick among optimists.
Port Harcourt is the most populous country in Africa and the largest oil producer in Nigeria, the continent’s largest oil producer.
Despite its oil resources, four out of 10 Nigerians live below the national poverty level, according to a recent World Bank report.
The Ukraine crisis has pushed up food and fuel costs across the continent as wheat and gas supplies have been affected, with aid agencies warning of worsening food insecurity in Africa.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)