At least 37 people have died in an overnight stampede at a stadium in Congo-Brazzaville, local authorities announced.
The army in the central African country, also known as the Republic of Congo, announced last week a recruitment drive which aimed at hiring 1,500 people aged between 18 and 25.
The announcement led over the past few days as many as 700 people a day to register their interest at recruitment centres, the Associated Press reported.
On Monday, thousands of young people reportedly gathered outside the Michel d’Ornano stadium in the heart of the country’s capital, Brazzaville, to attend the registration process taking place there.
The signing up was to open on Tuesday morning, the BBC wrote.
But the huge interest and urgency given by an approaching deadline to the registration drove many to gather outside of the stadium hours before the gates opened.
Brandon Tsetou, a graduate who survived the horrific incident, said he had been queueing outside the stadium since early on Monday.
He told AP: “According to the organisers, it was to be the last day. That’s why many of us decided to wait until late into the night, hoping to register.”
The survivor went on to claim the stampede may have been caused by some people trying to force their way through the stadium’s gates.
He said: “Some were so impatient that they had to force their way in, causing a stampede that left a number of people dead or injured, which we deplore.”
While the number of victims has been shared with the media, Congo’s Prime Minister Anatole Collinet Makosso didn’t provide how many people were injured in the crush.
However, he said in a statement a “crisis unit” had been set up under his authority. Mr Makosso also called the stampede a “tragedy.
The huge interest in this recruitment campaign can be explained by the high youth unemployment in Congo-Brazzaville, believed to be at around 42 percent.