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60 dead in stampede in Ivory Coast

Jan. 1, 2013 at 2:29 PM

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- A New Year's Eve fireworks display in Ivory Coast ended in tragedy when 60 people died in a stampede as they left a stadium early Tuesday, officials said.

Many others were injured in the disaster at Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast capital, the Los Angeles Times reported. The stampede began about 2 a.m.

Officials said most of the dead were children and teenagers, CNN reported. Minister of Youth Alain Lobognon in a tweet on his official feed said 26 were children, 28 women and six men.

Parents who had stayed home while their children went to the fireworks searched for them Tuesday. Mamadou Sanogo was looking for her 9-year-old son.

"I saw all the bodies, but I cannot find my son. I don't know what to do," she told L'infodrome, a local news website.

Officials were still unsure what caused people leaving the stadium to panic. One official who did not want his name used told CNN the stampede began in a neighborhood of narrow streets near the stadium.

The government had prepared for large crowds this year at New Year's Eve celebrations in Abidjan. They expected young people would be eager to blow off steam following the resolution of the political crisis when former President Laurent Gbagbo, who is now in the Netherlands awaiting trial for war crimes, refused to concede defeat to Alassane Ouattara.

Ouattara, now the president, came to the stadium area after the stampede, Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko said.

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