Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Children, women among dozens dead in Yemen donation stampede

Three people are detained over the stampede in Sanaaonditions

Update : 20 Apr 2023, 08:34 PM

At least 85 people, including children and women, were killed and hundreds injured in a crush at a Ramadan cash handout in Yemen early on Thursday.

Three people were detained over the stampede in Sanaa after large crowds gathered at a school to receive gifts of 5,000 Yemeni riyals -- about $9 -- for the end of Ramadan.

Harrowing footage screened by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels' Al Masirah TV showed a tightly packed crowd screaming and shoving, unable to move, while others attempted to haul stricken people out of the crush.

Other shots showed dead bodies on the ground as the panic continued. Afterwards, piles of abandoned sandals, clothing and a crutch littered the scene, while an investigator in white protective gear collected evidence.

A Houthi security official said that at least 85 people were killed and "more than 322" injured, 50 of them seriously.

A health official confirmed the toll.

The tragedy comes just ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr and punctures a buoyant mood over the war in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country, following peace talks and an exchange of nearly 1,000 prisoners last week.

Eyewitnesses said gunfire sparked a stampede after crowds gathered at the school, in Sanaa's historic Bab Al-Yemen district, to receive the handouts.

The head of the Houthis' Supreme Revolutionary Committee, Mohamed Ali al-Houthi, blamed "overcrowding", saying people were packed in a narrow street leading to the school's back entrance.

Once the gates opened, the crowd streamed into a tight staircase leading to the courtyard where the distribution was taking place.

The Houthis' political chief Mahdi al-Mashat said a committee had been formed to investigate, and a Houthi security official said three people had been detained on suspicion of involvement.

After the stampede, families converged on hospitals but many were not allowed to enter as senior officials were also visiting the dead and wounded.

Footage from one hospital showed dazed and bandaged survivors recovering in a ward, some with visible wounds on their limbs and heads.

Yemen has been mired in an eight-year conflict that pits a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia against the Houthi group. The war has killed tens of thousands of people, wrecked the economy and pushed millions into hunger.

The UN feeds 13 million in Yemen but funding shortfalls have reduced its activities. 

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