10 killed, 250 injured in Wooden bench collapse at Ethiopia religious gathering
The death toll from a sudden collapse of a wooden bench on Monday at a major religious gathering in northwestern Ethiopia's Gondar city has climbed to 10 while 250 people were injured, local government officials confirmed on Tuesday, Trend reports citing Xinhua.
The deadly incident occurred as a congested wooden bench that was constructed to serve as a sitting place for people attending the epiphany celebrations in Gondar city collapsed as it was forced to accommodate beyond its capacity as tens of thousands of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians gathered in Ethiopia's northwestern Gondar city to celebrate epiphany, the baptism of Jesus Christ.
"The accident has left a total of 250 people injured and ten of them died after they were admitted to the hospital," state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) quoted Ashenafi Tazebe, Medical Director at Gonder Referral Hospital, as saying on Tuesday.
The wooden bench, which was initially built to accommodate about 700 to 1,000 invited guests, collapsed as it was boarded by many unexpected others who were eager to take part in the baptism event, according to Gondar city peace and security department.
Despite majority of the victims who were admitted for emergency healthcare treatments have already left healthcare facilities after receiving minor treatments, Tazebe also indicated that some 80 others are still in the hospital receiving care.
According to the Medical Director, some 13 of the injured, who have sustained serious physical injuries, are currently receiving intensive medical treatment, who are said to "need lengthy medical care."
Eyewitnesses confirmed to Xinhua that security personnel and volunteers were seen undertaking lifesaving activities shortly after the incident that happened in the early hours of Monday.
Tesfa Mekonen, head of Gondar city peace and security department, also disclosed that among the victims that have sustained light physical injuries are two foreign nationals. Authorities are, however, yet to announce the two injured foreign nationals' citizenship.
The injured also include two security personnel who were protecting the wooden bench from the crowd, according to Gondar city peace and security department.
Various pictures have been also circulating over social media platforms shortly after the tragic incident, showcasing the incident as well as pictures of injured people from the incident.
According to Gondar city administration, tens of thousands of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians are attending this year's epiphany celebration in the historic city, while about 15,000 foreign nationals are also currently in Gondar city attending the epiphany celebrations.
Thousands of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians across Ethiopia travel to Gondar city every year to celebrate epiphany, in which this year's edition of the celebrations in Gondar is also attended by senior Ethiopian government officials, including the Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde.
The Ethiopian epiphany (Timket in Amharic), is considered as one of the East African country's highly rated religious and cultural events.
It is a colorful festival celebrated all over Ethiopia to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ, in which the commemoration starts on the eve of the main festival, which falls on Jan. 18, or Jan. 19 during leap year such as this year's edition of the celebration.