At least six people died in a stampede outside of a stadium hosting an Africa Cup of Nations soccer game in Cameroon, a local government official said on Monday, according to the Associated Press.
The incident occurred as crowds struggled to get access to Olembe Stadium in the Cameroon capital of Yaounde to watch the country's men's national team play Comoros Islands in the tournament's Round of 16. Witnesses said that the stampede began when stadium stewards closed the gates and stopped allowing people into the venue.
Officials at a nearby hospital said they received at least 40 injured people following the incident. At least six people died in the rush, but Naseri Paul Biya, the governor of the central region of Cameroon, said that there could be more deaths.
“We are not in position to give you the total number of casualties,” he said, per AP.
According to soccer officials, 50,000 people had tried to attend Monday's match. Olembe Stadium has a capacity of 60,000, but was only supposed to be 80% full for the game due to COVID-related restrictions on the size of the crowd.
Cameroon is hosting the African Cup for the first time in over 50 years, but there were some concerns about awarding the country the continental event. Cameroon was actually supposed to hold the tournament in 2019, but the event was taken away due to worries about the country's preparations, particularly the readiness of its venues, including Olembe Stadium.
The Confederation of African Football, which runs the African Cup, said that it was aware of the incident and that it was in communication with Cameroon's government.
“CAF is currently investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired,” the statement said. “We are in constant communication with Cameroon government and the Local Organizing Committee.”
Cameroon won Monday’s game 2-1 to move on to the quarterfinals.