People trapped in the crowd attempt to free themselves during a stampede in Sanaa, Yemen, April 19, 2023, in this still image taken from video. Image Credit: Al Masirah TV/via Reuters TV

Sanaa: More than 80 people were killed and hundreds injured in Yemen on Thursday after a charity distribution sparked one of the deadliest stampedes in a decade, Houthi officials said.

The latest tragedy to strike the country came days ahead of the holiday of Eid Al Fitr which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

At least "85 were killed and more than 322 were injured" after the stampede in the Bab Al Yemen district of the capital, a Houthi security official said.

The site of the stampede. Image Credit: Social media

"Women and children were among the dead," he told AFP on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to journalists.

A second health official confirmed the toll.


The incident took place inside a school where aid was being distributed.

Hundreds of people had gathered to receive handouts, according to witnesses.

The dead and injured have been moved to nearby hospitals and those responsible for the distribution were taken into custody, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the rebel's Saba news agency.

The ministry did not provide an exact toll but said "dozens of people were killed due to a stampede during a random distribution of sums of money by some merchants".

The Houthi rebel's political chief Mahdi Al Mashat said a committee has been formed to investigate.

A Houthi security official said three people had been detained on suspicion of involvement.

This image released by ANSAR ALLAH HOUTHI MEDIA OFFICE, shows the aftermath of a deadly stampede in Sanna, Yemen Wednesday, April 19, 2023. Image Credit: AP

Videos circulating on social media showed bodies lying on the ground of a large complex as people clamoured around them.

AFP could not independently verify the footage.

Families rushed to hospitals amid heavy security deployment but many were not allowed to enter as top officials were also visiting the dead and wounded.

Large crowds descended on one hospital entrance, an AFP correspondent in Sanaa said.

Security forces also deployed heavily around the school where the incident took place, according to the correspondent. They blocked relatives from entering the facility to locate their loved ones.

Deadliest stampedes and crushes of the past decade
The stampede that killed at least scores of people in Sanaa during a charity distribution event is among the deadliest crowd incidents of the past decade. Here are the most deadly:
* Mecca: 2,300 dead - On September 24, 2015, a massive stampede on the site of the stoning of the devil ritual in Mina near Mecca during the annual pilgrimage caused around 2,300 deaths, the deadliest disaster in the Hajj's history.
* South Korea: more than 150 dead - On the night of October 29, 2022, more than 150 people were killed in a crush in Seoul during a Halloween party with several thousand participants in the narrow streets of a neighbourhood in the South Korean capital.
* Indonesia: 135 dead - On October 1, 2022, a stampede in a football stadium in Malang, East Java, killed 135 people, including more than 40 children.
Police had tried to fend off fans with tear gas and many panic-stricken victims were crushed or suffocated while trying to use closed or narrow exit doors.
A police officer and two match officials have been jailed for 12-18 months over the disaster.
* India: at least 115 dead - On October 13, 2013, a stampede on the sidelines of a religious festival near a temple in the Datia district of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh left at least 115 people dead, mostly trampled or drowned, and more than 110 injured.
At the time of the accident, some 20,000 people were on a bridge over the Sindh River.
According to local authorities, a rumour about a possible collapse of the bridge caused the stampede.
* Iran: 56 dead - On January 7, 2020, a stampede in Kerman in Iran's southeast during the funeral of General Qasem Soleimani, which was attended by a huge crowd, resulted in 56 deaths.
The widely venerated general was killed on January 3 by a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport.
* Ethiopia: at least 52 dead - On October 2, 2016, at least 52 people died, according to authorities - at least 100, according to the opposition - in a crowd surge in Bishoftu, 50 kilometres (30 miles) southeast of Addis Ababa.
Clashes erupted between crowds and police during the traditional Oromo Irreecha festival that marks the end of the rainy season, causing the stampede.
* Tanzania: 45 dead - On March 21, 2021, 45 people died in a stampede at a stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's economic capital, where a tribute to late president John Magufuli was being held.
* Israel: 45 dead - On April 30, 2021, a stampede during the Jewish holiday pilgrimage from Lag Ba'omer to Mount Meron in northern Israel killed at least 45 people, darkening the largest gathering in the country since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.