Stampede at poll rally kills 41 and injures 50 in Yemen

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The Independent Online

At least 41 people were killed and more than 50 injured - most of them schoolchildren and teenagers - in a stampede yesterday during a pre-election campaign rally for Yemen's President, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Mr Saleh was addressing a crowd in a small stadium in Ibb, 192km (119 miles) south of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. Many of the those attending, who were packed into the stadium, were seen carrying banners and posters with pictures of Mr Saleh on them.

The young people had been bused to the stadium by government authorities to attend the rally.

Officials at the Thawra hospital in the city said 20 bodies were brought there. In the Al-Nasser hospital, officials revised their death toll to 21 from 12, after some of the people taken there died from their injuries.

Some of the injured were in serious condition, medical officials in Ibb said on condition of anonymity, because they were not authorised to speak to the media. Five of the injured were treated and released.

Overcrowding and a lack of clearly marked exit signs contributed to the stampede, after people leaving the stadium collided with other people entering the stadium, the officials said.

President Saleh offered condolences to the families of the victims, as did opposition groups, who called for a full-scale investigation, and urged the government to punish those responsible for the tragedy.

Yemen's presidential election is scheduled to take place on 20 September.