Eight dead following stampede during food handouts in Zambia

Six women, one man and one young boy were killed at the charity event earlier today

Eight dead following stampede during food handouts in Zambia

The scene at Lusaka, Zambia. Credit: Mwebantu/Twitter

Zambian police say eight people have died and an additional 28 have been injured in a stampede yesterday during food handouts at a youth center.

Police spokeswoman Esther Katongo said the stampede occurred when people forced their way into a prayer event which was distributing free food parcels to crowds attending the event, which was part of an outreach program at the Church of Christ’s Olympic Youth Development Center (OYDC).

Zambian police have opened an inquiry into the crush that followed 35,000 people trying to enter the sports complex.

According to local media portal, Mwebantu, six women, one man and one young boy were killed in the stampede. 

Five of the people died at the scene of the stampede, while three died at hospitals after being rushed for medical attention.

The injured persons are said to be receiving treatment at Chingwere first level hospital and Chipata clinic, while the bodies of the deceased have been taken to University Teaching Hospital mortuary.

“We have since dispersed the gathering and an inquiry into the matter has been instituted,” a police spokesperson stated.

Hunger in Zambia

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 60% of people in Zambia live below the poverty line and 40% are considered to be extremely poor.

More than 350,000 people in the country are food insecure, i.e. they do not have access to a regular supply of healthy food, and reports show that an estimated 15% of the country's children are underweight.

The have also been recent reports that a reports a new pest, an armyworm caterpillar which wreaked havoc on staple maize crops in South Africa and Zimbabwe, has also reached Zambia.

Lower harvests of maize, wheat and sugarcane as a result of severe drought in the region are also pushing up prices for Zambia's staple foods, according to the country's Ministry of Agriculture.