Ivorian stadium stampede kills 19

Police carry an injured person at Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan on 29 March 2009
The stadium was packed for the return of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba

At least 19 people have died in a crush at a football stadium during a World Cup qualifier in Ivory Coast.

More than 130 people were injured in the stampede at the Houphouet-Boigny arena in the West African country’s city of Abidjan.

About 36,000 spectators were in the stadium, where hosts Ivory Coast beat Malawi 5-0.

The BBC’s Ivory Coast correspondent John James says police tried in vain to control the panicking crowd.

He says the stadium was packed for the return of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, who scored twice.

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The ministry of sport and the Ivorian Football Federation have confirmed the number of deaths and say the incident occurred when thousands of fans tried to squeeze into the city’s main stadium.

A wall collapsed causing supporters already trying to squeeze into the stadium to panic.

Hundreds of fans have died during riots and stampedes at football games across Africa over the last decade.

The incident occurred before the game began but the fixture was allowed to go ahead, according to reports.

The stadium was reportedly sold out in advance of the game after cut-price tickets were put on sale.

The arena has just been refurbished but our correspondent says at this stage it seems the sheer number of people who wanted to get into the match proved too much.

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