Soccer: Seven die in Stadium stampede

At least seven people were crushed to death and 51 injured when panicking crowds went on a stampede during a riot at a soccer match between two of the Congo’s top teams.

It was the second soccer tragedy in Africa this month. Forty-three fans died during a crowd stampede in South Africa on April 11.

One report said the death toll in the disaster could be 10.

The riot broke out at a game between Lupopo and Mazembe, the top two teams in southern Congo, in the southern city of Lubumbashi.

When Mazembe players made the score 1-1 with just 10 minutes left supporters of the opposing team started throwing bottles.

Police fired tear gas to try to quell the crowd prompting the stampede.

Crowds knocked over barriers in the stands in the rush to escape the tear gas and each other.

Congo Information Minister Kikaya Bin Karubi said it was ‘‘the worst football disaster in memory’’ in the Congo.

The stadium was designed to hold 40,000 fans. The exact crowd count was not immediately known, but witnesses said it was packed.

Forty-three people were killed at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, during a stampede three weeks ago by fans trying to see a key match between two of their country’s top soccer teams.

Mbala Musau, 28, said he saw his father killed in the crush.

‘‘This is the fault of the police,’’ Musau said. ‘‘They shouldn’t have fired tear gas at the people.’’

Scores of injured and dead were laid out on the soccer pitch, and survivors took many victims to the nearest hospital, only to find it had no electricity for the day.

It was not clear how many people were in the stadium. Lubumbashi mayor Floribert Kaseka said it was ‘‘completely packed’’.

Asked how many the stadium was designed to hold, Kaseka said: ‘‘It’s 20,000 people, but we can go until 40,000 people.’’

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