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The death toll from a stampede in the Ivory Coast now stands at 61, with survivors saying the stampede, which killed mostly teenagers and children, was caused by barricades set up along the street. The teens and children were out for a New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
“For security, because there were so many important people at the event, we closed certain main streets,” said a police officer.
“After the fireworks we reopened the other streets, but we had not yet removed the tree trunks from the Boulevard de la Republic, in front of the Hotel Tiana near the National Assembly (parliament) building,” she said. “That is where the stampede happened when people flooded in from the other streets.”
One survivor did her best to explain exactly what happened.
“Near the Justice Palace we were stopped by some people who put blockades of wood in the street,” 33-year-old Zoure Sanate said from her bed in Cocody Hospital. “They told us we must stay in the Plateau area until morning. None of us accepted to stay in Plateau until the morning for a celebration that ended at around 1 a.m.
“Then came the stampede of people behind us,” she said. “My four children and I were knocked to the ground. I was hearing my kids calling me, but I was powerless and fighting against death. Two of my kids are in hospital with me, but two others are missing. They cannot be found.”
Another man who was questioned said his life was saved by people who pulled him onto the sidewalk.
The government plans to set up a crisis center to continue to interview victims about what happened on the night of the stampede.