Exactly 17 years ago today, 127 soccer fans lost their lives in a stampede which occurred when Hearts of Oak clashed with Asante Kotoko in a Ghana Premier League match.
The 2001 event has been described as Africa’s worst soccer disaster.
Trouble had been anticipated before the game, and extra security measures had been taken at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Hearts scored two late goals against Kotoko to make it 2-1, which led to some disgruntled Kotoko fans throwing plastic seats and bottles onto the pitch.
The police responded by firing tear gas into the crowd.
Panic ensued, resulting in a stampede that led to the deaths from compressive asphyxia of 127 people.
And as part of activities to mark the 17th anniversary, a short memorial ceremony was held at the forecourt of the Accra Sports Stadium.
The ceremony was attended by the Sports Minister, Isaac Asiamah, members of the bereaved families and representatives from both Accra Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko, the two clubs playing at the time of the incident.
Wreaths were laid at the resting place of the 127 people.
Addressing to the media, Isaac Asiamah said the country has learnt “useful” lessons from the incident which has manifested in structural considerations and crowd control strategies at the venue.
“Useful lessons have been learnt. The stadium wasn’t like this before. There were one or two exits at the time now there are more. When there is a problem [fans] can easily get away, evacuation is easier. We’ve improved on the stadium year after year although there has been some neglect. We are putting it back in shape. Crowd comportment is also now better.”