Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mawazine Festival Stampede

Tragedy last weekend (23 May) at a festival in Morocco (full story at BBC News):

'At least 11 people have been killed in the Moroccan capital Rabat, following a stampede at a world music concert. Some 40 were injured when a wire fence collapsed at the Mawazine festival. The incident happened on Saturday night, when some 70,000 spectators were packed into the Hay Nahda stadium to see Moroccan singer Abdelaziz Stati. The nine-day-long event has featured such international stars as Kylie Minogue, Algerian rai singer Khaled, Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder...

The festival was drawing to a close when the stampede occurred. Shortly after midnight on Sunday morning, thousands of spectators hurried to leave and a wire fence toppled over. According to police, five women, four men and two children died in the ensuing crush.

Governor of Rabat Hassan Lamrani blamed the stampede on an attempt by some concert goers to rush out of the stadium by jumping security fences. "At the end of the concert and despite the existence of seven gates, a group of citizens decided to go over the metal barriers to have a quick exit," Mr Lamrani said. But one of the dozens of concert-goers injured in the crush told Reuters news agency police were partly responsible for the incident. "The doors were closed by the police and we were forced to leave the stadium from some places not destined for this purpose. The police did not intervene".'

Simon Broughton at Songlines was at the festival, and puts across a positive perspective:

'...Most of the concerts are free. I was just there for the last four days of the nine-day festival, but it has a line-up unmatched by few festivals anywhere in the world. International artists included Kylie Minogue (no thanks), Sergio Mendes, Solomon Burke, Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder; world music artists included Fanfare Ciocarlia, Amadou & Mariam, Khaled, Eliades Ochoa, Ska Cubano, Faiz Ali Faiz, Buika, Ojos de Brujo, Alim Qasimov and more It was predictably the Moroccan performers that attracted some of the biggest crowds – the most extraordinary I saw was female chaabi singer Daoudia who played a violin Arabic style, propped on her knee, and sang songs, with a back-line of men on frame drums, that drove her audience into a frenzy. It was these Moroccan gigs that elicited the wildest reaction in the crowds too, and on the final night, Stati’s concert was relocated from the centre of town to the Hay Nahda football stadium bcause of the huge crowds he was expected to draw. Despite the shadow of the tragedy, my overwhelming memory of Mawazine is of thousands of people enjoying music of every kind'

No comments: