A stampede at an aid distribution centre in Yemen's capital of Sanaa has claimed the lives of at least 80 people and left 220 others injured, according to Anis Al-Subaihi, spokesperson for the Houthi-led health ministry.
The crush took place in the Old City in the centre of Sanaa when hundreds of poor people gathered at an event organised by merchants, according to the Houthi-run Interior Ministry.
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Statement from the officials
Abdul Khalik Al-Ajri, spokesperson for the Houthi-controlled interior ministry, told the Houthi-run Saba news that "the stampede accident on Wednesday evening was the result of the random distribution of sums of money by some merchants without coordination with the Ministry of Interior", Xinhua news agency reported.
Dozens of casualties were taken to nearby hospitals. Motaher al-Marouni, a senior health official in Sanaa, gave the death tally and said at least 13 were seriously injured, according the Houthi's Al-Masirah satellite TV channel.
The rebels quickly sealed off the school where the event was organised and barred people, including journalists, from approaching.
Stampede allegedly took place as the crowd panicked due to electrical explosion
Eyewitnesses, Abdel-Rahman Ahmed and Yahia Mohsen, said armed Houthis shot in the air in an attempt to control the crowd, apparently striking an electrical wire and causing it to explode. That sparked panic and people began stampeding, they said.
The Houthi-run Interior Ministry said it had detained two organisers and an investigation was underway.
Yemen's capital is controlled by the Iranian-backed Houthis since they descended from their northern stronghold in 2014 and removed the internationally recognised government.
The Houthi move prompted a Saudi-led coalition to intervene in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government.
The conflict has turned in recent years into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The war has killed more than 150,000 people, including fighters and civilians, and created one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters.
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