Several killed in Ethiopia stand collapse

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image copyrightAFP
image captionDozens have reportedly sustained injuries

At least three people have died in Ethiopia after a wooden stand collapsed during a major Orthodox Christian celebration.

Dozens more are injured and some reports put the death toll at 10.

The stand was inside the Emperor Fasilides Bath where thousands were commemorating the baptism of Jesus for the Timket festival in Gondar.

The Ethiopian News Agency reported that more than 15,000 foreigners were attending the celebration.

A journalist uploaded a photo of the stand just minutes before it collapsed, showing what appeared to be a weak structure.

image copyrightAFP
image captionThousands of onlookers saw the stand collapse
image copyrightAFP
image captionThe stand was reportedly poorly built with little professional oversight

Samuel Baheru, who travelled to Gondar for Timkat from the capital Addis Ababa, watched bodies being carried out on stretchers.

"We heard a loud noise and what we saw coming out on the stretchers wasn't pleasant. At first I panicked because my wife was inside, but then I found her and we continued with Timkat," he said.

Tesfa Mekonnen, the Gondar city government's head of peace and security, denied the tragedy was as a result of poor construction, saying the building work had been done by "professionals".

"Youngsters wanted to participate so they climbed up, so there were too many and it was overloaded," he said.

Ethiopia is famous for its Orthodox Christian festivals, which draw faithful and secular tourists from across the world.

image copyrightAFP
image captionLarge numbers of the injured were carried from the collapsed stand
image copyrightAFP
image captionThe festival continued despite the stand collapse
image copyrightAFP
image captionPeople worship prior to the stand collapse
image copyrightAFP
image captionThe festival takes place in the northern city of Gondar

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