At least 15 people, including 11 elderly women, were crushed to death in the in a stampede in a stadium in Afghanistan where people were applying for visas, officials say.
The incident occurred at the stadium in Jalalabad city, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, after huge crowds assembled in a bid to secure visa after the nearby Pakistani consulate resumed services following a seven-month break due to the pandemic.
To avoid overwhelming the visa centre, the crowd had been redirected to a sports stadium instead of the usual visa centre in the city of Jalalabad.
“The visa applicants jostled to secure their token from the consulate officials,” a provincial government spokesman said.
“The crowd got out of control, leading to a stampede.”
#AFG At least 11 Afghan woman killed in a stampede at a stadium in Jalalabad city. At least 13 people wounded. Those killed and wounded in the stampede were waiting to get tokens for Pakistani visas, several Afghan officials in Jalalabad confirms to me. pic.twitter.com/fzd939D3ub
— BILAL SARWARY (@bsarwary) October 21, 2020
Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Mansoor Ahmad Khan, said he was “deeply saddened” by the incident and that his country was “engaged with Afghan authorities for better facilitation of visa applicants”.
Deeply saddened at the reports of casualties at a stadium in Jalalabad 5 km from Pakistani Consulate where visa applicants were being organized by Afghan provincial authorities. We sympathize with the families of victims.
— Mansoor Ahmad Khan (@ambmansoorkhan) October 21, 2020
The new visa policy has encouraged thousands of people to rush to the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul and four consulates elsewhere in Afghanistan to apply for visas to secure medical treatment, education and jobs in the neighboring country.
It is worth noting here that Pakistan hosts nearly three million Afghan refugees and economic migrants, who have fled decades of hostilities, religious persecution and poverty in their war-torn country.