At least 8 dead in human crush in Cameroon at African Cup of Nations

Around 50,000 people tried to enter the stadium, which could only be at 80% capacity due to COVID-19.

Premier League soccer ball, illustrative (photo credit: PIXABAY/KEVINSTUTTARD)
Premier League soccer ball, illustrative

At least eight people, including children, have been confirmed killed in a human crush incident outside an African Cup of Nations soccer game in Cameroon, according to state broadcaster Cameroon Radio Television.

The crush occurred outside the Olembe Stadium in the Cameroonian capital city of Yaounde, where Cameroon was playing Comoros. 

At the time, they had struggled to enter the stadium, with as many as 50,000 people trying to attend. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the stadium, which could normally host 60,000 people, could only be at 80% capacity, according to SkyNews.

This followed an attempt to bring fans to the game at the new stadium after initial low turnouts, including offering free tickets and organizing mass transportation efforts.

According to regional governor Naseri Paul Biya, casualties may be much higher with at least 40 people injured, SkyNews reported.

This was corroborated by Olinga Prudence, a nurse at the nearby Messassi hospital, who noted that some of the injured are in "desperate condition" and will need to be evacuated to a specialized hospital, according to the Associated Press.

Continental soccer government body Confederation of African Football (CAF) said in a statement that it was aware of an incident at the Stadium.

"CAF is currently investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired. We are in constant communication with the Cameroon government and the Local Organizing Committee," it said.

The match was the last 16 knockout game in the African Cup of Nations, the biggest soccer tournament in Africa. Cameroon ultimately won the game 2-1, meaning they will reach the quarterfinals, according to ESPN.

Human crush incidents occur when large groups of people rush to the same place all at once. There is only so much space available, so the massive crowd soon becomes compact, crushing everyone together with the pressure that is incredibly dangerous for one's lungs and heart.

These incidents are incredibly dangerous and occur during these types of overcrowding.

It is not the first time this has happened at a soccer game. In 1989, during an FA Cup semi-final game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield in the United Kingdom, a human crush occurred that resulted in 97 fatalities and 766 injuries.

This incident, which became known as the Hillsborough disaster, was the result of poor crowd management resulting in severe overcrowding that led to disaster.

Another human crush incident recently occurred in Israel in 2021. This incident, taking place on Mount Meron during Lag Ba'omer, saw a huge group of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men crushed together in the tight space, resulting in 45 people being killed

Like with Hillsborough, this was due in part to poor planning and crowd management. In the case of meron, Israeli officials had been notified of the risks ahead of time on multiple occasions.