Tue, 03 October 2023
The Daily Ittefaq

Yemen stampede death toll rises to 85

Update : 20 Apr 2023, 08:18

More than 80 people were killed and hundreds of others injured in a deadly stampede that broke out in capital during a charity distribution, Huthi officials told AFP on Thursday.

The latest tragedy to strike the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country came days ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

At least "85 were killed and more than 322 were injured" after the stampede in the Bab al-Yemen district of Sanaa, a Huthi security official said.

"Women and children were among the dead," he told AFP on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press.

A second health official confirmed the toll.

An AFP correspondent in the Huthi-controlled capital said the incident took place inside a school where aid was being distributed.

Security forces deployed heavily around the area as people flocked to the scene hoping to locate relatives but they were barred from accessing the site.

The dead and injured have been moved to nearby hospitals and those responsible for the distribution were taken into custody, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the rebel's Saba news agency.

Authorities have called for an investigation.

The Huthi's interior ministry did not provide an exact toll but said "dozens of people were killed due to a stampede during a random distribution of sums of money by some merchants."

Videos circulating on social media showed bodies lying on the ground inside a large complex as people clamoured around them.

AFP could not independently verify the footage.

Civil war broke out in Yemen in 2014, when Iran-backed Huthi rebels seized Sanaa, prompting a Saudi-led coalition to intervene the following year to prop up the internationally recognised government.

Fighting has eased dramatically since a six-month, UN-brokered truce last year, even after it expired in October.

But the war unleashed what the United Nations describes as one of the world's worst humanitarian tragedies.

More than two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the UN, including government employees in Huthi-controlled areas who haven't been paid civil servant salaries in years.

Over 21.7 million people – two-thirds of the country – need humanitarian assistance this year, according to the UN.

The stampede tragedy dims the cheer of a massive prisoner exchange between the country's warring parties that saw nearly 900 detainees freed over the weekend.

On Monday, more than 100 other prisoners of war were flown from Saudi Arabia to Yemen.

More on this topic

More on this topic