I Coast vows to wrap up stampede probe

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iol pic afr ivory stampede Reuters Shoes are seen along a street in Plateau district where a stampede occurred after a New Year's Eve fireworks display in Abidjan on January 1, 2013.

Abidjan -

The Ivorian government on Wednesday promised that an investigation into the circumstances of a New Year stampede that left at least 63 people dead would be wrapped up by the end of the week.

The official death toll rose to 63 two days after the stampede, which broke out among crowds returning from a fireworks display in the economic capital Abidjan.

On the first of three days of national mourning, Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan gathered the special crisis team set up after the tragedy.

The investigation, including the autopsies, “will be completed this week” and its results divulged immediately, he told reporters after the meeting.

He argued there had been no shortcomings in the security set-up for the celebrations, which he said drew some two to three million revellers, but said lessons needed to be learned from the stampede.

The exact cause of the stampede remains unclear but officials have admitted that the presence of tree trunks on the ground near the site and insufficient public lighting may have contributed to the scope of the tragedy.

People whose loved ones have been missing since the fateful night continued to mass around to the central morgue in Abidjan as identification of the bodies remained under way.

The United Nations mission in the troubled country made one of its medical teams available to assist with the emergency operation and also offered to help with the investigation, a statement said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “has learnt with deep sorrow of the heavy human toll of the stampede,” the statement said, adding that he offered his condolences to the victims and their relatives. - Sapa-AFP

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