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General News of Thursday, 10 May 2001

Source: Panafrican News Agency

Death Toll Now 126 From Stadium Tragedy

At least 126 soccer fans have been confirmed dead from Wednesday's stampede at the Accra Sports Stadium during the Premier League match between Hearts of Oak and arch rivals, Asante Kototo.
More than 50 people are also on admission but in stable condition at various hospitals.
Hospital sources told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that there were 102 bodies at the 37 Military Hospital, 13 at the Ridge Hospital, six at the Police Hospital, three at Korle Bu and one each at the Trust Hospital and La Polyclinic.
The stampede occurred when police fired teargas into the stand at the 40,000-capacity Stadium.
Kwabena Agyapong, Deputy government spokesman said Thursday that arrangements for identification of the bodies would begin after the hospital authorities have completed post-mortem examinations.
The government has solicited the assistance of the military authorities to control the identification process, which is expected to be emotional, and appealed to relatives to exercise restraint and co-operate.
Agyapong, in an interview with Joy FM radio, said religious groups have also been contacted to counsel and console traumatised relatives.
"It is important that we should console... and pray for them and make them feel that they are not alone at this tragic moment," he said, adding that a help-line would be opened for families whose relatives were at the Stadium.
Agyapong, who said he was at the Stadium during the match expressed shock at the heavy casualty.
President John Agyekum Kufuor has visited the military hospital and appealed for calm.
An emergency cabinet meeting has been called for Thursday by the President, who has cancelled all official engagements and is scheduled to address the nation later in the day.
Reports say a few vehicles are still at the precincts of the Stadium, believed to belong to the victims.
Inspector-General of Police, Ernest Owusu Poku said he has set up a probe into the tragedy.
"I can assure you that no police officer will be shielded," the police Chief said, adding that details of the probe report would be made public.
The Ghana Football Association and Ghana League Clubs Association are holding an emergency meeting on the tragedy and whether to postpone weekend league matches.
Meanwhile, Harry Zakour, Hearts Chairman said some 20 Muslims among the victims, were being buried immediately.