One person has been killed and a further 40 injured in a stampede ahead of an African Nations Cup qualifier between Madagascar and Senegal. It is the latest in a worrying series of stadium deaths in recent years.
Local hospital officials confirmed the fatality on Sunday after spectators tried to enter an already-full Stade Municipal de Mahamasina in the country’s capital ahead of the highly anticipated fixture.
Fans had been queuing outside the venue for several hours before kickoff and once the 22,000-capacity venue was full, officials closed the gates with hundreds still wanting to get in.
"The supporters wanted to get in but the gate was closed because the stands were full," police chief Herilalatiana Andrianarisaona told French radio station RFI.
"The people in front couldn't step back and other people arrived behind them in some numbers. This is what provoked the stampede."
The match proceeded as scheduled and finished 2-2 while there was a minute's silence for the victims before kickoff.
Deaths at stadiums have been all too frequent in Africa, as inadequate policing and marshalling at often over-crowded venues has frequently led to tragedy.
The worst loss of life was at the Accra Sports Stadium in Ghana when 127 fans died in 2001 after police fired teargas into the stands following a league match between Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko.
In 2012, 74 people were killed when fans of Egyptian side Al Masry turned violent against visiting supporters of Al Ahly at the Port Said Stadium while last year eight fans died in a stampede at a game in Malawi and the same number were killed in a cup final in Senegal.
mp/dv (Reuters, AFP)