According to authorities, at least 31 persons were murdered in a stampede during a church charity event in Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s southernmost metropolis.
Hundreds of people who had arrived early on Saturday to collect food at the celebration burst over a barrier, creating the stampede, according to Grace Iringe-Koko, a police spokesperson for Rivers state, whose capital is Port Harcourt.
Many people had been queuing since Friday to get into the Port Harcourt Polo Club, which was hosting the Kings Assembly pentecostal church’s annual “Shop for Free” charity event.
“People had arrived earlier, and some were agitated and began rushing, resulting in stampeding.” “While the inquiry is underway, the police are on the ground monitoring the situation,” Iringe-Koko told Reuters.
Seven people were hurt, according to the police spokeswoman, but are “responding to treatment” following the rush at the event, which organizers said was intended to “give hope” to the poor.
According to the police spokeswoman, an investigation has been initiated, and a report will be provided soon.
Clothing and shoes intended for the recipients were seen scattered on the ground in videos from the incident. Some of the injured were treated on the open field by doctors and emergency personnel.
The “Shop for Free” event was put on hold as officials looked into what caused the rush.
Such incidents are typical in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, where government data show that over 80 million people live in poverty.
In recent years, Nigeria has had multiple food distribution stampede disasters, including a food distribution program run by an aid group in north Borno State that resulted in the deaths of seven women last year.