At least 19 dead in Ivory Coast stadium stampede

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – At least 19 people were killed on Sunday in a stampede at an overcrowded stadium during an international soccer match in Ivory Coast, officials said.

"We have 19 dead and many seriously injured," a military source at the stadium said. The crush occurred after part of a wall collapsed when ticketless fans stormed one of the entrances to the 45,000-capacity Houphouet-Boigny arena in the West African country’s main city, Abidjan.

"Spectators who did not buy tickets were jostling before the match," Sports Minister Dagobert Banzio said on state television. "They smashed one of the main gates of the stadium. They were trampled."

He put the number of injured at 132.

"There were lots of supporters outside who wanted to get in," Interior Minister Desire Tagro said. "There was a crush."

Ivory Coast defeated Malawi 5-0 in the World Cup qualifier.

Riots and crushes are common at African soccer stadiums, which are frequently overcrowded.

Last September, 11 people were killed in a stadium riot in Democratic Republic of Congo and in June eight people died in a crush in Liberia.

South Africa is spending several billion rand on building new venues and infrastructure for the soccer World Cup which it is due to host in 2010.