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Stampede at Stadium 1 Killed, 12 hospitalised

Doctors at Connaught hospital have confirmed the death of an aged man after a stampede at the National Stadium in Freetown following a mad rush for free screening from the British medical charity, Mercy Ships. Twelve people have also been hospitalized.
The deceased who could not be identified up to press time, was said to be suffering from elephantiasis and having an eye problem.
Thousands of Sierra Leoneans from different parts of the country thronged the stadium for free treatment with some even spending the night at the stadium on Sunday.
Unhappiness and dismay were boldly written on the faces of women who had left their homes with the aim of finding solutions to their illnesses but were visited by the pushing and shoving that led to the stampede.
According to an eyewitness, Eric Campbell, a cleaner at the Stadium, around 10 am while people stood impatiently in a long queue for registration tension mounted as they felt the registration was too slow.
The deceased was said to have been standing in front of the queue, when murmuring and pushing started from the back to enter the stadium even when their names had not been called. Mohamed Thoronka from Mile 91, who tried to rescue him from the crowd, explained that police presence at the entrance was very thin leading to the lack of control and the subsequent death of the old man.
Veronica Briwa from Kenema told Awoko that the registration process was poorly organized. She said Mercy Ships workers should have arranged people according to the type of ailment and sex.
Martha Aruna from Bonthe also said that she slept at the Stadium just to be among the first people to be screened. “We want Mercy Ships to differentiate us by our sex to avoid overcrowding. Registration process was halted after the stampede. People now fear where they should pass the night. Some are wondering if the Stadium will be made available to them again.
By Abibatu Kamara

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