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NIGERIA’S NEXT AFCON OPPONENTS, MADAGASCAR RECORD TRAGIC ACCIDENT

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Nigeria’s next opponents in the on-going Africa Cup of Nations, Madagascar, have recorded a tragic incident at home.

At least 16 people were crushed to death and dozens more injured in at a stadium hosting national independence day celebrations in the capital, Antananarivo. 

The incident occurred on Wednesday afternoon outside the Mahamasina Stadium, where several thousand people had gathered for a concert following the traditional military parade held to mark the national holiday.

The bodies of 16 people killed, including three children, were being stored in the mortuary of Joseph Ravoahangy Andrianavalona Hospital in the city. Photos showed the dead lying on the ground partially covered by white sheets.

Some 80 people were wounded, Olivat Rakoto Alson, the head of the hospital said.

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Witnesses at the hospital told AFP news agency that security forces had opened the gates to allow spectators to enter the enclosure, causing the crowd to mass outside the stadium.

Police then immediately closed the gates and blocked the crowd, which caused the deadly pile-up, witnesses claimed. 

“When the organisers opened the gate, we were in the front row in the queue,” Jean Claude Etienne Rakotoarimanana, who suffered bruises from the stampede, told AFP.

“Suddenly, people ran to get in front of us. They shoved us, some even punched us and pulled us,” he added, saying he fainted during the commotion.

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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