Yemen stampede at Ramazan cash giveaway takes 85 lives

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A crush at a Ramadan cash distribution in Yemen early on Thursday resulted in at least 85 fatalities and hundreds of injuries, making it one of the country’s biggest catastrophes at a time when hope for ending its bloody civil war was rising.

After large crowds gathered at a school to receive presents of 5,000 rials (about $8) for the conclusion of Ramazan, three persons were imprisoned over the event in Sanaa, Yemen’s rebel-held capital.

Al Masirah TV, which broadcasts harrowing images of the Houthi rebels supported by Iran, showed a crowded mob screaming and pushing while unable to move while others attempted to pull afflicted persons out of the crowd.

As the panic persisted, additional shots revealed lifeless people on the ground. After that, the area was covered in heaps of abandoned clothing, sandals, and a crutch as an investigator wearing white protective gear gathered evidence.

On condition of anonymity, a Houthi security official told AFP that at least 85 were killed and more than 322 were injured, adding that about 50 of the injured were in critical condition.

“Women and children were among the dead,” the official said. A health official confirmed the toll.

The event occurred soon before Eid al-Fitr and dampens the optimism that had been building over the war in the poorest nation on the Arabian Peninsula following last week’s peace talks and exchange of over 1,000 captives.