PLATEAU, Ivory Coast — Dozens of children were killed and over 100 more people were injured as a New Year’s celebration at a stadium in the west African nation of the Ivory Coast turned deadly early Tuesday morning.
According to CNN, the victims ranged in age from eight to 15. Over 100 more people were hurt at the stadium in Plateau – the central business district of the city of Abidjan, the nation’s largest city.
Local authorities say that they expect the death toll to rise.
Authorities say that the stampede happened around 1:00 a.m. local time. According to a report from the BBC, thousands of people were trying to leave the stadium following the conclusion of the fireworks display at the same time as another large crowd tried to get in.
Local officials say that people were walked over, suffocated and crushed by the massive crowds.
Rescuers at the scene worked for hours to save the young victims, but were unsuccessful in many cases.
Before the night’s events took a deadly turn, AIP – the nation’s official news agency – reported that thousands of people had poured into the streets to join the celebration, seen by some as symbolizing the nation’s return to peace following years of violent political unrest.
The night before the tragedy, the 65,000-seat Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium – named for the founder of the nation of nearly 22 million people – hosted a concert by American performer Chris Brown.
That event went off without any apparent incident.