Nigeria: 31 people die in stampede for free food at church event

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Thirty-one people, including numerous children, were killed Saturday during a stampede at a church’s free food event in Nigeria’s River state, the Associated Press reports.

While Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy, over 80 million people live in poverty. The primary reasons for the persistent poverty for over half the Nigerian population are long-term ethnic conflict, political corruption, and income inequality. The COVID-19 pandemic made matters much worse, and food prices increased.

Saturday’s “Shop for Free” charity event was organized by the Kings Assembly Pentecostal church in Rivers state, AP said.

The event was set to open at 9 a.m. but many people arrived as early as 5 a.m. to get in line. A police spokeswoman told AP the locked gate at the entrance to the event was somehow broken, and this created a stampede.

Security forces cordoned off the area as first responders evacuated the dead and injured, Godwin Tepikor from Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency told AP.

Medics worked on some of the injured in the open fields as crowds of people gathered around them in dismay or in an effort to help.

A witness known as Daniel told AP: “there were so many children” among those who died. One mother lost five of her children in the crush, Daniel said.

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