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Dozens die in stadium accident

October 16, 1996
Web posted at: 11:10 p.m. EDT(2310 GMT)

GUATEMALA CITY (CNN) -- At least 40 people died and more than 150 were injured in an accident in Guatemala City just before a World Cup qualifying match Wednesday night between Guatemala and Costa Rica, authorities said.

The accident occurred when spectators tried to jam into a tunnel, authorities said. There were reports that the accident occurred after a gate collapsed.

Many panicked spectators were trampled or suffocated in a general seating area of the stadium, witnesses said.

Radio reports said scores of bodies were laid out on the field.

Guatemala and Costa Rica were about to begin play at Mateo Flores National Stadium when the accident occurred.

President Alvaro Arzu of Guatemala and President Jose Maria Figueres of Costa Rica were scheduled to attend the game, but neither was in the stadium at the time.

CNN sources at Channel 6 Costa Rica confirm 40 people were crushed to death. Channel 6 reported that the stadium was filled with at least 47,000 fans. It was built to hold 36,000.

The match was canceled.


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