Madagascar’s Independence Day celebrations have been marred by a tragedy that saw 16 people being killed and 101 people injured during a stampede at a stadium on Wednesday.
The incident happened at the entrance of the Mahamasina stadium in the capital Antananarivo as the crowd jostled to get through the gate.
“The gate was not large enough for the crowd,” said General Richard Ravalomanana, who told CNN the incident happened at the moment Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame was leaving the stadium after attending a military parade at the stadium earlier in the day.
The tragedy has cast a shadow over events marking the country’s 59 years of independence from France.
Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina, his wife, and other government officials visited the injured at the Joseph Ravoahangy Andrianavalona Hospital in the city to offer their condolences after the incident.
The president wished the wounded a speedy recovery and announced his government would foot the hospital bill for those injured.
“My wife and I are upset by the tragic jostling at the entrance to the #Mahamasina stadium. All our condolences to the families of the victims and a speedy recovery to the wounded. The State is at your side, and light will be shed on the circumstances of this tragedy,” Rajoelina said in a Twitter post.