78 people are believed to have been killed in a stampede in the Yemen capital Sanaa. Hundreds of people had gathered in a school to receive help, witnesses and Houthi media on Thursday
Al Masirah TV news outlet reported that, several people were injured including 13 who were in critical conditions.
The stampede occurred during the distribution of donations by merchants in the final days of the Muslim holy month Ramadan, the Houthi-controlled Ministry of Interior spokesperson said in a statement.
A large number of people had gathered into a school to receive donations, which resulted to 5,000 Yemeni riyals, or about $9 per person, two witnesses told Reuters.
A video posted by Houthi television on Telegram showed a crowd of people crammed together, some were screaming others shouting and reaching out too be pulled to safety. Security staff fought to push people back and control the crowd.
Another video was posted after the stampede, showing several discarded shoes, a crutch and clothing on the steps of the building. Forensic investigators were present sorting through the belongings.
The merchants responsible for holding the event have been arrested and investigations are underway, the interior ministry said.
Yemen has been involved in a eight year civil war, which has killed thousands of people, destroyed the economy and pushed millions into hunger.
In 2015, a Saudi-led coalition mediated in Yemen , after the Houthis over threw the government from the Capital Sanaa in 2014. The conflict has wildly spread as proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Mohamed Ali-al-Houthi, Head of the Houthi supreme revolutionary committee, said the stampede was the result of the Yemeni people suffering “the worst global humanitarian crisis” after eight years of fighting.
“We hold the countries of aggression responsible for what happened and for the bitter reality that the Yemeni people live in because of the aggression and blockade,” he said on Twitter.
The top negotiator of Yemen’s Houthi movement reveled that the recent peace talks with Saudi Arabia has made progress and further discussions would be held to talk out the remaining differences.