A stampede in a new generation church known as the Kings Assembly in Port Harcourt, GRA, Rivers State has claimed the lives of over twenty-one persons.
It was learnt that the leadership of the church invited members of the public to receive food and gift items as part of the arrangement to mark its fourth anniversary celebration.
The invitation resulted in a large gathering outside the church located at the Port Harcourt GRA as members of the public stormed the church location in large number.
It was learnt that a good number of the people who responded to the call started arriving at the church on Friday evening.
By Saturday, the number of expectant poor people looking for food at the church gate had increased to a massive crowd as early as 6:30 a.m. for the event scheduled for 9:00 a.m.
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The stampede occurred when a church officer opened the smaller gate and the crowd trying to gain entrance for strategic placement surged forward thereby causing a stampede.
At the end of the fierce uncontrolled struggle, 21 bodies were picked from the floor while a large number of the weak, unconscious and injured were evacuated to the hospital for urgent medical attention.
“This sad, unfortunate incident happened this morning at Kings Assembly, GRA, Port Harcourt. The church invited members of the public to come for food and gift items. It is part of the arrangement for its fourth anniversary.
“The problem was that so many people started moving there since Friday. Today in the morning, the crowd had become massive.
”People came as early as 6:30 a.m. on Saturday. Somebody opened the small gate and all the people who wanted to gain entrance approached the gate suddenly with force and that caused the stampede.
“So many people died as a result of the incident while many were rushed to the hospital. In fact, not less than 21 bodies have been moved to the mortuary, ” a source said
When contacted the Police Public Relations Officer, Rivers State Police Command Iringe Grace Koko said she was heading to the church.