Sunday, May 24, 2009

11 Dead, 40 injured at Mawazine festival in Rabat

The Mawazine festival in Rabat was a scene of chaos on Saturday night when 11 people were killed and about 40 other people were injured when a wire fence collapsed and caused a stampede.

According to police, five women, four men and two children died in the crush. Rescuers helped to pull out survivors and transport the injured to hospital, where seven people remain under observation.

A policeman on duty outside the stadium

According to local media there were some 70,000 spectators packed into the Hay Nahda stadium to see Morrocan singer Abdelaziz Stati. Earlier in the week the festival also featured Kylie Minogue, Khaled and Alicia Keyes.

The week-long Mawazine festival is one of several events aimed at promoting Morocco's image as a modern, tolerant nation. The festival was created in 2001 and is one of the most important cultural gatherings in Morocco. Some 1,700 foreign and local performers converged on Rabat for the 2009 event which ended on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, in Casablanca, an American, of Lebanese descent, was stabbed to death on Saturday night. The victim, his wife and sister-in-law were harassed by a group of four drunkards, when they were returning back home. Following an altercation, one of the drunkards stabbed the American businessman who died in the emergency room.

The culprit and his accomplices were arrested and will be brought before court to answer for their crime.

King extends condolences to the families of music festival stampede victims

King Mohammed VI sent condolence messages to the families of the stampede victims, which occurred on Saturday night at the Hay Nahda Stadium. In these messages, the sovereign expresses his sincere condolences and deep sympathy to the families of the victims.

The monarch has also decided to personally take charge of the burial expenses of deceased people and the hospitalization charges of the wounded. The king has also given his instructions to the authorities to take the necessary measures to provide support and assistance to the families of the victims.

The sovereign has also ordered the authorities to open an investigation into the causes and circumstances of this incident. "An investigation is under way to establish the exact causes and circumstances of the incident," the Interior Ministry said in a statement.


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