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General News of Thursday, 10 May 2001

Source: Panafrican News Agency

Minister Says Ghana Will Probe Stadium Tragedy

Ghana's presidential affairs minister Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey said the government will set up a commission of inquiry into Wednesday night's stadium incident in which 117 football fans died.

He described the violence as "a great national tragedy."

A Ghana News Agency account showed that at least 117 soccer fans died in a stampede when police fired teargas to control hooligans from a section of a stand at the Accra Sports Stadium after a match between Asante Kotoko football club and arch rivals Hearts of Oak football club. Hearts won 2-1.

Obetsebi-Lamptey, visibly shaken by the tragedy, appealed for calm, saying citizens should remain by their radio sets for announcements instead of trooping to the hospitals to look for relatives.

"It's a night for us to mourn and not a night for impatience and anger," he said.

The minister had to hold back from breaking down at the sight of the dozens of bodies during a visit at the 37 Military Hospital which was one of the city's hospital receiving the victims.

Official spokesperson Elizabeth Ohene described the incident as horrific and terrible and called on the nation to rally behind the families of the victims.

Responding to accusations and blame for the tragedy, Ohene said it was premature to apportion blame.