Nine dead and 20 injured in stampede in Guatemala

At least nine people died and 20 others were injured early Thursday in a stampede after an Independence Day concert in Guatemala, the rescuers said.

“The Guatemalan Red Cross and volunteer firefighters stabilized more than 20 injured and nine people died at the scene” in the western town of Quetzaltenango, the relief agency said on Twitter.

Local press reported that the victims were crushed as thousands tried to leave an open-air plaza at the end of a concert during the traditional ‘Xelafer’ festival, some 200 kilometers (120 miles) away. west of Guatemala City.

People at the event “didn’t even realize that people were crushed because it was already dark,” local resident Monica Gonzalez told AFP.

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“They started fighting and pushing and falling and that’s when it all happened.”

Another witness, Luis Carrion, told AFP he saw people being pushed and falling to the ground before being trampled on by people leaving the scene.

“More than anyone, those who organized the event are responsible for it.”

Red Cross spokesman Andres Lemus said the injured were taken to local hospitals.

He added that the dead suffered “multiple trauma”.

Public prosecutor’s spokesman Moises Ortiz told AFP that prosecutors had started gathering information for an investigation, while the national institute of forensic sciences had activated four morgues to carry out autopsies. .

The Guatemalan government has yet to comment on the tragedy.

President Alejandro Giammattei was taking part in a procession through the capital in front of the National Palace Museum.

It was the first time in three years that Guatemala celebrated its independence from Spain after the festivities of the previous two years were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Guatemala gained its independence from the former colonial power of Spain on September 15, 1821.