AP Photo/Emanuel Ekra
Ivory Coast: 61 Dead in New Year Celebration Stampede
At least 61 people died and dozens more were injured in Abidjan as crowds that had gathered for celebratory New Year's fireworks stampeded overnight, Ivory Coast rescue workers said today.

An AFP journalist saw many injured children, while images broadcast by RTI television showed bodies stretched lifeless on the ground outside the city's main stadium.

Piles of abandoned shoes and clothing could also be seen at the stadium, where soldiers and police were deployed.

The head of military rescue workers, Lieutenant Colonel Issa Sako, told journalists at the scene that 61 people had died.

"Forty-nine wounded were evacuated" by rescue workers, he added, saying other injured victims had gone to hospital on their own. Another rescue official had earlier said that at least 200 people were wounded.

The flow of people at the stadium had caused a "very large crush", Sako said. "In the crush, people were walked over and suffocated by the crowd."

Witnesses said the stampede had broken out after the fireworks ended, though the cause remains unclear. It erupted near the stadium's main entrance, where security had set up tree trunks as crowd control barriers.

Visibly shaken children were among the roughly 40 wounded taken to a hospital in the wealthy neighbourhood of Cocody, in the north of the economic capital.

A mother named Zeinab who had taken two of her children to the stadium found one of them in the hospital, a small boy who lay on a bed in a groggy state.

Zeinab said she "hurt all over" and showed a journalist the scratches on her body.

"I don't know what happened but I found myself lying on the ground with people stepping on me, pulling my hair or tearing my clothes," she said.

She said she had been knocked unconscious and been pulled from the crowd by a young man.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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