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Thu Oct 23 10:44:34 SAST 2014

Ivory Coast to try those linked to deadly New Year's eve stampede

Sapa-dpa | 06 January, 2013 12:12
Shoes are seen along a street in Plateau district where a stampede occurred after a New Year's Eve fireworks display in Abidjan January 1, 2013.
Image by: THIERRY GOUEGNON / Reuters

The Ivory Coast will put on trial those responsible for security and other flaws that led to the death of 63 people in a stampede on New Year's Eve, the country's public prosecutor said late on Saturday.

Prosecutor Koffi Kouadio Simplice told state television that an investigation had found that a road blocked by trees as well as the lack of lights and security personnel contributed to the accident.

The prosecutor's office will institute "criminal proceedings" against "those suspected of committing the crimes."

The stampede occurred in the cocoa-producing West African country's largest city Abidjan as hundreds of thousands of revellers were leaving a fireworks display.

According to the investigation, two streams of spectators going in opposite directions crossed paths, which led to panic. Many of the victims were children.

"Some people ran up against the tree trunks that where set on the road and fell down. They were trampled by others who tried to find a way out," said Simplice.Author: Marius Selay Kouassi

Abidjan stampede probe points to local authorities -  Sapa-AFP

The investigation into a stampede that killed 63 people during New Year celebrations in Abidjan blames an insufficient security deployment as well as a number of anomalies near the scene of the tragedy, an official said Saturday.

The main causes were "insufficient security forces" as well as the presence of a construction site fence that made the street narrower and caused a bottleneck when crowds dispersed after the fireworks display, Abidjan prosecutor Simplice Kouadio Koffi said.

The streets were inadequately lit and one pavement was blocked by tree trunks, he also said in a statement read on public television, adding that he would take legal action against the suspects.

He said several members of the local administration and fire department had been questioned over the tragedy, after which three days of national mourning were declared by President Alassane Ouattara.

The opposition party of ousted former president Laurent Gbagbo has called for Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko to resign.

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