At least 78 people have been killed in a crush at a school in Yemen’s capital Sanaa just days before the Eid al-Fitr festival.
The incident happened on Wednesday as hundreds of people crowded into a school in the Bab al-Yemen district of Sanaa in the hope of getting a charitable donation of $10 that was being handed out by merchants to mark the final days of Ramadan.
According to eye witnesses Abdel-Rahman Ahmed and Yahia Mohsen said that an armed Houthis had fired into the air in an attempt at crowd control, apparently hitting an electrical wire, which exploded and caused panic among those waiting.
The Ministry of Interior’s spokesperson Brig Abdel-Khaleq al-Aghri described the incident as “tragic”, blaming the “random distribution” of funds without coordination with local authorities.
The two merchants who organised the event had been detained and an investigation was under way, the ministry said. The Houthis announced they would pay some $2,000 in compensation to each family who lost a relative, while the injured would get about $400.
73 of the injured were taken to the al-Thowra Hospital in Sanaa, according to hospital deputy director Hamdan Bagheri, with families rushing to hospitals looking for their loved ones.