11 children among dozens killed in stampede at religious ceremony in Liberia
At least 29 people in Liberia, including 11 children and a pregnant woman, have died in a stampede by worshipers at a Christian ceremony in a densely populated area of the capital, Monrovia, officials said Thursday.
The stampede erupted when a gang of knife-wielding thugs attacked some of the hundreds of people attending the ceremony around 9 p.m. Wednesday night, police spokesman Moses Carter told The Associated Press. One person was arrested, he said.
Carter told AFP the toll was tentative and “could rise” as a number of people were in critical condition.
The bodies were taken to the morgue at Redemption Hospital near where the incident happened at a beach called New Kru Town.
Street gangs have become a growing problem in Monrovia and other Liberian cities in recent years, according to residents.
Pastor Abraham Kromah, a popular preacher, held the two-day prayer event in the town of New Kru and drew large crowds, according to footage circulating on social media.
Eyewitness Emmanuel Gray, 26, told AFP he heard “a loud noise” towards the end of the event, and saw several dead bodies.
A stampede at a similar prayer event in central Liberia in November 2021 killed two infants and hospitalized several others, according to local media.
Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic, is an impoverished country still recovering from back-to-back civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that killed an estimated 250,000 people.
It was also ravaged by the West African Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016.
According to the World Bank, 44% of the Liberian population lives on less than $2 a day.
The UN’s Human Development Index, a barometer of prosperity, ranks Liberia 175th out of 189 countries and territories.
AFP contributed to this report.