A stampede during the New Year’s Eve festivities at a shopping center in the capital city of Uganda claimed the lives of at least nine people, including some children, police said Sunday.
The melee occurred outside the Freedom City Mall in Kampala after a fireworks show. Witnesses say that crowds were moving in opposing directions, which led to people getting crushed, trampled, and suffocating to death.
“After the display ended, a stampede ensued resulting in the instant deaths of five people and injuries of several others,” Kampala Metropolitan Police deputy spokesman Lucas Owoyesigyire said. “Emergency responders arrived on the scene and transported the injured individuals to the hospital, where nine were confirmed dead,” he added, according to Voice of America.
The Uganda Police Force said in a statement that it is investigating the incident of “rash and neglect” and confirmed that “several juveniles” were among the nine dead. It added that the incident occurred around midnight “when the event’s MC encouraged attendees to go outside and watch the fireworks display.”
“After the display ended, a stampede ensued, resulting in the instant deaths of five people and injuries to several others,” the statement added.
It is alleged that the incident occurred at midnight when the event's MC encouraged attendees to go outside and watch the fireworks display. After the display ended, a stampede ensued, resulting in the instant deaths of five people and injuries to several others.
— Uganda Police Force (@PoliceUg) January 1, 2023
“After the fireworks display, they were told to go back,” Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango told NTV News. “That is where the stampede started because they were rushing, everybody was rushing inside.”
“She was enjoying, she was having fun,” a friend of a victim told the outlet. “But due to loss of breath… eventually she died.”
“There was a huge crowd. People began pushing each other for space, leading some to fall, and the stampede ensued,” a survivor told The Guardian. “Children were crying and there was chaos. I survived because I was pushed in a corner by the crowd. I felt losing breath but I stayed put since I had no exit until the situation calmed down, but some people were already lying down gasping for breath.”
The mall is a popular destination and is used as a music venue and for various celebrations, according to the Associated Press.