Pope Mourns for Ghana Stadium Victims

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 11, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II today expressed his sorrow over the deaths of 126 people at a soccer match late Wednesday in the Accra stadium in Ghana.



In a message sent to Archbishop Dominic Kodwo Andoh of Accra, by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Holy Father expressed his sympathy to Ghanaian President John Kufuor and to the victims´ families.

"He prays for the eternal repose of the dead and implores God´s gifts of consolation and peace on all who mourn," the telegram said.

The first victims of the African stadium tragedy were buried today. Most of the victims were Muslim.

The tragedy occurred when Kumasi Ashanti Kotoko fans, angered that their team was losing 2-1, began to break the stadium seats and throw objects into the field five minutes before the end of the match with Accra´s Hearts of Oak.

Authorities responded by tossing tear gas at the 40,000 fans. This triggered a panic among the spectators, who rushed to the exits. The police had closed the stadium´s exits, however, and many people were asphyxiated in the ensuing crush of the crowd.