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Barricades blamed for crush that killed 61

Survivors of a stampede in Ivory Coast that killed 61 people after a New Year's Eve fireworks display said makeshift barricades stopped them from moving along a main boulevard, causing the crush.

Police said tree trunks had been put across the Boulevard de la Republique where the trampling took place.

"Because there were so many important people at the event, we closed certain main streets," said a police officer who was overheard briefing Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara.



pickpockets

"After the fireworks we reopened the other streets, but we had not yet removed the tree trunks from the Boulevard de la Republique," she said.

Mr Ouattara ordered three days of national mourning and launched an investigation.

Newspapers are speculating that thieves put up the roadblocks so pickpockets could steal money and mobile phones from the packed-in people.

The government organised the fireworks to celebrate Ivory Coast's peace, after months of political violence in early 2011 following disputed elections.

hnews@herald.ie