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125 killed in Ghana soccer crush

ACCRA, Ghana -- Up to 125 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in a stampede at a football stadium in Ghana, hospital officials have said.

Ghana Television journalist Catherine Nartey told CNN the tragedy happened at the end of a match between premier league rivals.

Many people were injured in the crush as some 70,000 spectators tried to get out of the stadium when police fired tear gas on people who were tearing up seats, she said.

Ghana President Jerry Rawlings was visiting the injured in several hospitals, government officials said.

The death toll could be as high as 120, Nartey said.

The Reuters agency quoted a government official as confirming at least 50 people were dead. "Where I am standing right now there are at least 50 to 60 bodies," said Asamoah Boateng, a member of the presidency's chief of staff office, who was speaking from Accra military hospital.

Accra Hearts of Oak were leading 2-1 against Assante Kotoko with five minutes left in the game when Assante supporters began throwing bottles and chairs onto the field, witnesses said, according to AP.

Police then fired tear gas, creating panic in the stands as spectators rushed to escape the gas, witnesses said.

"It is a great national tragedy," AP quoted Minister of Presidential Affairs Jake Obetsebi-Amptey, who visited the hospital, as saying.

"Many people have died and many more are wounded and are bleeding."

He urged relatives to return home, saying they were crowding the hospital and creating problems.

"What is important now is to remain calm. It is a night for us to mourn and not a night to worsen an already bad situation with anger and impatience."

It was the fourth soccer disaster in Africa during the past month.

Forty-three people were killed on April 11 at a stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa. Another stampede on April 29 killed eight people in Lubumbashi, Congo.

On May 6, fighting broke out among fans at a soccer match in Ivory Coast, killing one person and injuring 39.

Memorial held for stadium victims
April 15, 2001

Accra Hearts of Oak Football Club
Ghana Football Association information

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