Death toll from Ethiopian Epiphany celebration accident in Gondar reaches 12

Ethiopian government sources have not yet issued official statement regarding the tragic incident during Timkat (Epiphany) celebration in Gonder).It does not seem to be linked to foul play or malicious activity based on information available so far.President Sahlework Zewde and other senior government officials were attending it

Ethiopian _ Gondar _ Stand Collapse
Photo credit : FBC

January 20, 2020

Latest report indicate that that the death toll from the accident has reached 12. Aster Misganaw, VOA Amharic service reporter, established the number after talking to eye witness accounts including persons like Askal Kassaw who was among the master of ceremonies in the festival. 

Figures about lives claimed were blurry in reports that came out early.

DW Amharic service cited hospital sources in Gonder to report that at least 10 people were killed and hundreds wounded in connection with the collapse of wooden stand prepared for Epiphany (Timkat) celebration –  a three days celebration in the traditions of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Gondar City head of Peace and Security, Tesfa Mekonen, has confirmed the death of three people, according to the AFP report.

Ethiopian state and affiliated media outlets did not report about the number of casualties from the incident at this writing although they have cited a security office in the city of Gonder to confirm that there were deaths. 

The identities of those who lost their lives in this tragic accident are undisclosed, too. 

DW Amharic service cited anonymous sources from the hospital in Gondar city to report that the number of people who sustained injuries during the accident is between 100 and 150.

Other sources that cite hospital sources said those injured suffered bone fractures and internal bleeding.

A report by AFP said “Hundreds had been sitting on a tiered wooden structure for hours when it collapsed. Witnesses fleeing the scene said an untold number were crushed, suggesting the casualty count could rise.”

According to remarks from security officials in the region, the wooden stand was meant to carry between 700 and 100 people and the collapse is believed to be due to overload on it.

It happened in the morning before the procession of the Arks back to their respective churches. 

Despite the accident, the celebration continued as the festival has attracted about two million people from all over Ethiopia and abroad too.

In December 2019, UNESCO added Timkat to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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