Crusade Stampede Leaves Dozens Dead -Weah Orders Swift Probe, Declares 3 Day Mourning

The intent for the religious assembly at the famous D. Twe Sports Pitch was to seek divine protection, divine revival and divine favor. But that was not what some 27 lives, including 11 young ones, got. They, like the rest of nearly 30,000 inhabitants of one of Liberia’s largest slum communities, the Borough of New Town, were part of the Christian event. The unlucky 27 attendees were rather hurried to the Great Beyond and the whole of Monrovia got flustered on Thursday, January 20, 2022, as news of broke that a stampede had broken out at the jostling crusade. The Police announced it has made some arrests and the president of the nation, Mr. George Manneh Weah, declared three days of mourning and an expeditious investigation of the incident. The Analyst’s Stephen G. Fellajuah and Matthew H. Turry who visited the disaster scene report.

At least 29 persons are confirmed dead as a result of a stampede that occurred on the evening of Wednesday, January 19, 2022 during a crusade organized by the General Overseer of the More Grace International Ministries, Prophet Abraham Kromah.

The crusade was taking place on the sports pitch of the D. Twe High School in the Borough of New Kru Town where hundreds of worships had turned out to listen to the renowned preacher of Gospel and to receive spiritual blessings.

Eyewitnesses, including worshippers at the crusade, told reporters that the incident was sparked by street urchins and other disadvantaged youths commonly referred to “Zogos” who entered the sports pitch and attacked worshippers.

It is reported that the attackers moved into the crowds with dangerous weapons and objects, such as cutlasses, knives and other deadly weapons which they used to forcefully take away worshippers’ personal belongings including money, cell phones, watches and other valuables.

According to some eyewitnesses, the attacks were unleashed from inside and outside of the crusade venue, triggering alarms and wailings that culminated into a stampede.

As the fence around the D. Twe pitch has only one main entrance, some say, the rush into and out of the field in fear of the attackers led to the exhaustion, suffocation and crushing of dozens of people to death.

Both the dead and injured immediately were taken to the nearby Redemption Hospital where the dead bodies were deposited at the mortuary while the injured are being attended to at the hospital.

Dr. Williamatta S. Williams-Gibson, Medical Director at the Redemption Hospital, said of the twenty-seven deaths, two were males, sixteen females including a pregnant woman. Eleven of the number were children including, five males and six females.

She also said that fifteen persons including men, women and children are currently admitted with six persons in emergency wards.

President’s Visit

The horrible incident that triggered an avalanche of visitors to the Borough of New Town, mainly of them government officials.

The President of the nation, Dr. George Manneh Weah, paid an early morning visit to the scene and at the Redemption Hospital to get a firsthand impression of the situation.

Shortly after a tour of the scenes, the President briefly spoke to reporters, expressing sadness about the loss of lives and extended sympathy to the bereaved families.

“We are all sad. We pray to God with hope that those of our citizens that died will rest in peace,” the President said.

Moving forward, the President said there will be measures put in place on how crusades will be organized and what age of citizens will go to the religious event.

He added that the measures will also consider the size of the location and number of people to attend, coupled with sane security measures.

“We are all religious people but again, we must have the necessary space to accommodate people,” the Liberian leader asserted speaking to reporters. “From now on, we will monitor crusades. When the people are over the capacity of the venue, then we have to make sure you cut the number down. We cannot allow people to gather in certain areas if you do not have the space and the security measures in place.”

President Weah who looked visibly devastated over deadly incident, emphasized that his administration would amend those hosting crusades and will consider the space.

3 Days of Mourning

Meanwhile, the President has declared three days of national mourning in honor of the dead.

President George M. Weah declared a 3-day state of National Mourning following the tragic and heavy loss of lives in a stampede in New Kru Town outside Monrovia.

According to an Executive Mansion release, the President has ordered that the national ensign be flown at half-mast at all public buildings throughout the Republic while the nation mourns.

The release said the President is disheartened by such a national calamity and he has mandated the police to conduct a full-scale investigation to ascertain whether or not there is criminal culpability. He urged the authorities of the LNP to ensure the investigation is speedy and thorough, saying that anyone found liable will be dealt with by the law.

He also called on health authorities, including the Liberian National Red Cross and the Disaster Management Agency, to assist with treatment and recovery efforts.

The dedication ceremony of the new Duala Market which was to be performed by the President on Thursday was also postponed indefinitely in deference to the deceased.

Crusade’s Host Extends Condolences

The General Overseer of the World of Life Outreach Mission Int’l, (WOLOMI), the entire membership of the church and the Christian Community has registered their regret for the loss of the lives of several Liberians who were returning home after a daylong crusade in the township of New  Kru Township, outside the Nation’s Capital- Monrovia.

The release which was signed by Bedeskoe Nyumah Tumbay, Communication Associate, said the head of the Church, Apostle Abraham Kromah, was deeply saddened by the death of those Liberians which occurred on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 at about 9:00pm.

“As we regret such an incident, the church is currently working together with the Liberia National Police (LNP) who is conducting the investigation into the incident,” the Church said in a statement.

“At the same time, we are making every effort to get in touch with the Bereaved families who lost their loved ones while seeking the Gospel of Jesus Christ, may their Souls Rest in Peace”, the release concluded.”

Testimonies Amid Griefs

Teta Walker, a grandmother of three children, who also attended the crusade with the kids but out unscathed, has testified about how God saved her and her grandchildren.

She said she was shocked by the pulling of the crowd from the main entrance of the fence when news broke out that those leaving the fence were attacked by zogoes.

Abraham Sieh, a father who could not locate his two children during the incident, filled with grief, stood at the front of the Redemption Medical Hospital holding their photos with the hope that they would be identified by the hospital staff.

“I wasn’t at the crusade; I was at work,” he explained. “It was my fiancé who took the children to the service and since the incident occurred last night they are missing. This is why we brought their pictures to show them to the doctors. Currently we do not know whether they are dead or alive.”

Several other families told reporters they were able to identify their loved ones and relatives.

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