Power outage triggers lethal stampede in Congo

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KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — More than 20 people were killed Friday in southwest Congo when generators failed during a festival honoring a popular singer, plunging the stadium into darkness and causing a stampede, officials and witnesses said.

The power failure at the stadium in the town of Kikwit occurred at around 2 a.m. Friday, said witness Papa Mukalay who attended the concert.

"Everyone wanted to be the first to get out. It was total confusion," he said.

The provisional death toll by midday Friday was 23 and injuries were also reported, said government spokesman Lambert Mende. He said investigations into the cause of the power outage had been launched.

Kikwit is the hometown of Jean Baptiste Emeneya, best known as King Kester Emeneya, a singer whose career spanned decades and who died in Paris in February at 57 years old. A massive funeral ceremony for Emeneya was held in Kinshasa in March.

The festival was scheduled to last through Sunday, but the Bandundu provincial government said Friday the rest of the program would be cancelled.

"This morning activities have restarted quietly but people are in a state of shock," Mukalay said.

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April 2014
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