Ivory Coast suffers stadium disaster

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More than 20 people were reported to have been killed in a stadium disaster during a World Cup qualifier between Ivory Coast and Malawi in Abidjan yesterday. A rush by spectators led to the collapse of a wall, medical officials said. Police then fired tear gas to clear the crowd, causing a stampede which also left over 100 people seriously injured.

The tragedy followed similar incidents which have marred international matches in Africa in the last decade, including two separate ones in Zambia and the death of 13 people in Zimbabwe nine years ago. Fifa instigated a programme of stadium inspections across Africa before the 2010 World Cup qualifiers and Abidjan's Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium was passed as safe.

Several English-based Ivory Coast players were involved in the match, including Chelsea striker Didier Drogba. The incident is believed to have occurred before kick-off, however the game was allowed to go ahead, Drogba scoring twice in a 5-0 win.

Reports in Ivory Coast suggested the stadium was over-crowded. Dagobert Banzio, Ivory Coast's sports minister, told state television: "Spectators who did not buy tickets were jostling before the match. They smashed one of the main gates of the stadium. They were trampled." Banzio put the number of deaths at 22 and 132 injured.