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8 killed at Malawi independence day stampede

Seven children and one adult were killed in a stampede at Malawi’s national stadium on Thursday as large crowds gathered for independence day celebrations, police said.

The stampede occurred when gates were opened at the 40,000-seat Bingu stadium in the capital Lilongwe for a presidential address and football match to mark the annual holiday.

“Eight people — seven children aged around eight years old, and one adult died,” national police spokesman James Kadadzera told AFP.

He said 62 people had been injured and were receiving treatment at Lilongwe’s main hospital.

“My government will do all it can to assist the bereaved families,” President Peter Mutharika said at an independence day prayer meeting.

“We are mourning with you.”

Mutharika was due to speak before the afternoon football match, which was still scheduled to go ahead, and would also visit the injured, officials said.

International diplomats and Malawian politicians and dignitaries were expected at the event, which was set to conclude with a game between local sides Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers.

Malawi, then known as Nyasaland, won independence from British colonial rule in 1964.

Independence day is marked annually with military parades, fireworks, music concerts, prayers and sports.

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