Officials said at least 11 women were killed in a stampede on an Afghan football stadium on Wednesday. There were thousands of people gathered at the nearby Pakistani consulate to apply for visas.
Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the governor, told reporters that many people were trampled on the stadium in Jalalabad, the capital of the eastern province of Nangarhar, and 10 women and 3 men were injured.
Provincial Hospital spokesperson Zaher Adel also confirmed the death toll.
The death toll of Nangarhar Provincial Assembly Member Naser Kamawal was even higher, with 15 dead and 15 injured.
“Unfortunately this morning tens of thousands of people had come to the football stadium which led to the tragic incident,” Khogyani said.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Pakistani consulate resumed issuing visas last week after being suspended for seven months.
In order to avoid large crowds gathering at the visa center, applicants were directed to a football stadium near Jalalabad.
“There were already thousands of people gathered at the gates of the stadium and women were given the priority to stand in the front,” said witness Abdul Ahad, who had come to the stadium to secure a Pakistani visa.
“When the officials announced that the gates were opening in the morning, everybody rushed to enter the stadium to be the first to deliver their passports,” Ahad told AFP.
“The women, most of them elderly and who were in the front fell and could not get up. It was chaotic.”
Officials said hundreds of police officers have been deployed in the stadium to control the crowd.
In the ultra-conservative Afghanistan, women are accustomed to line up separately from men.
Since early morning, thousands of Afghans from Nangarhar and other nearby provinces have arrived, applying for medical visas or visiting relatives.
A few hours after the incident, people saw relatives carrying coffins from a mortuary in Jalalabad.
Every year, many Afghans travel to neighboring Pakistan, and in the past few decades, thousands of people have taken refuge there to escape the war and poverty in conflict-stricken Afghanistan.