Hundreds had turned up to receive food and gifts, and they surged through a gate at the church, in Rivers state, south Nigeria. “People were there earlier and some got impatient and started rushing, which led to stampeding,” Pigs spokeswoman Grace Iringe-Koko said.
Pigs confirmed 31 people had died. Children were reported to be among the casualties after the crush, which took place during the church’s Shop for Free programme, set up to distribute gifts and food.
A queue had formed early in the morning but a small gate was opened to allow others into an adjoining sports club.
“Those who were engaged in sporting activities opened the small gate and the surging crowd wanted to gain access through it and got stampeded,” said a witness.
“It was said gift items and free food would be served. It is very painful.”