At least 31 people have reportedly died in a stampede as families were crushed to death at a church service.
The horror incident happened during an event at King’s Assembly Church in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Up to 31 people have been reported dead, including children, local media is reporting. However, it is feared the death toll could rise.
An earlier report stated that among the victims were a pregnant woman and three children.
A witness said the incident occurred during the church’s “Shop For Free Programme” to distribute gifts and food to celebrate its fourth anniversary.
He said people started arriving on Friday while others arrived as early as 6.30 am , even though the event was supposed to start by 9:00 am.
The source added that a group of people who were supposed to have a sports session arrived at 8:00 am and opened a small gate, giving the crowd the chance to force their way in.
The source told Punch that most of the victims were taken to the nearby military hospital in Port Harcourt.
He said: “The incident happened this morning. The church invited people for its fourth edition of food and gift items distribution. Some came since Friday while many others came as early as 6:30 am on Saturday.”
“Those who were engaged in sporting activities opened the small gate and the surging crowd wanted to gain access through the small gate and got stampeded. I counted about 21 dead bodies on the ground.”
The witness also stated: “This is not the first time the church is holding this event, but the crowd since yesterday till this morning was too much. It was said that gift items and free food would be served. It is very painful”.
The acting spokesperson of the state Police Command, Grace Iringe-Koko, confirmed the incident but has not revealed the number of victims yet.