January 2, 2013
Stampede Kills 16 at New Year's Pentecostal Vigil in Angola
(Updated) More than 120 injured during UCKG vigil at overcrowded stadium.
Update (Feb. 4): The Angolan government has suspended church activities by the UCKG for 60 days, as well as other Pentecostal churches deemed to operate in a similar manner. Criminal charges are still pending.
A stampede during a New Year's Eve church vigil in Angola's capital Luanda killed 16 people, including at least three children, Reuters reports.
Earlier accounts had reported only 10 deaths in the stampede that occurred at the gates of the Cidadela Desportiva stadium on New Year's Eve. However, the official death toll rose to 16 this morning, and the Angolan news agency Angop cited officials as saying that 140 people also were injured.
The stampede occurred during a vigil organized by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), a Brazilian Pentecostal group.
“We were expecting 70,000 people but far more turned up,” Ferner Batalha, a UCKG bishop, told Agence France-Presse.
Angolan police chief Paulo de Almeida told Angop the stadium has capacity for only 50,000 attendees—and that he estimated around 150,000 people were trying to attend the vigil, overwhelming the security measures when anxiety and panic ensued.