Stampede kills 43 football fans at South African match

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The Independent Online

A surge of fans at an overcrowded soccer stadium in Johannesburg killed 43 people and injured dozens more last night in the worst disaster in South African sports history.

A surge of fans at an overcrowded soccer stadium in Johannesburg killed 43 people and injured dozens more last night in the worst disaster in South African sports history.

Spectators rushed forward, triggered by a goal scored in the game between the fierce rivals Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, and trampled on fallen fans. Thousands of people outside Ellis Park tried to force their way in to join the 65,000 capacity crowd midway through the first half. Police had earlier fired tear gas at people outside the stadium.

A gate on the east side of the ground was broken down and fans rushed inside, many getting crushed against barbed wire. A security guard, Louis Ship-alana, 42, said: "The stadium was full. There was no place to stand. People were pushing toward the fence, and the fence collapsed and the people in the back stepped on those in front."

Bodies were left strewn on the field covered in blankets as the emergency services tried to revive the injured and dying.

In scenes reminiscent of Hillsborough, the emergency services used advertising boards as stretchers to carry dead and wounded on to the perimeter of the pitch. Two helicopters took it in turns to land on the pitch and ferry the most seriously injured to hospital.

President Thabo Mbeki's office promised an urgent inquiry into the tragedy.

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