Lagos, May 29 (IANS): At least 31 people died in a stampede at the venue of a church programme in Nigeria's southern city of Port Harcourt in Rivers state, police said.
Grace Iringe-Koko, police spokesperson in the state, confirmed the casualties and said that local church had organised the outreach to give out palliatives to the underprivileged, reports Xinhua news agency.
"It is 31 people that died. It was a stampede because a church was trying to give out palliatives," Iringe-Koko said.
The event was scheduled to start on Saturday morning, but some people went there earlier and broke into the place, resulting in the stampede, said the spokesperson.
"So people started rushing in and there was a stampede," she said.
Speaking to Xinhua, Iringe-Koko said rescue operators are working at the scene of the incident, and an investigation has been launched by the police to ascertain the immediate causes of the incident.
According to the spokesperson, the nature of the church programme was bound to attract a crowd.
Nigeria has winessed similar stampedes in the recent past.
Twenty-four people died at an overcrowded church gathering in the south-eastern state of Anambra in 2013, while at least 16 people were killed in 2014 when a crowd got out of control during a screening for government jobs in the nation's capital, Abuja.