AT LEAST nine people have died and 20 people have been injured after a stampede at a music festival in Guatemala.
Thousands of concert-goers were attending the Central American Independence Fair, known as Xelafer, which has been suspended for the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Festival attendees described horror scenes of a “human avalanche” which left many crushed, with fears the death toll will rise.
Of the nine confirmed dead so far, two were children, according to news reports in Guatemala.
The festival in the Guatemalan city of Quetzaltenango features hundreds of activities and parades to commemorate Guatemala’s declaration of independence.
Relatives have come to identify the dead at the concert.
Chilling video filmed from inside the crush shows terrified festival attendees screaming as the stampede worsens.
A witness caught up in the tragic scenes said that the crush began when a band called Bohemia Suburbana finished their set and all the people tried to leave at worse.
“The security hired by the organizers had closed exits, something that all the people who came behind did not know, thinking that they were open they kept pushing,” they told Stereo 100.
“There were children, some ladies had little ones, we tried to protect them, but the people came to their senses because of their alcoholic state.
“Most of the people managed to get to one side, however, due to so much pressure, they pulled down the railings that had covered the exits, and that’s where they passed over the people.
“Several bodies were seen lying, some at first glance could be said to have already died, even a lady was between the railings.
“Beware, the concert was still going on, but all the people were already lying at the exit, desperate people trying to revive family or friends.”
The festival, featuring parades, concerts and beauty contests, was due to last for three days.
Guatemalan journalist Isa Paiz wrote on Twitter: “Today Quetzaltenango and all of Guatemala are in mourning for the loss of 9 people after a human stampede that took their lives at the end of one of the #Xelafer2022 concerts.”
The events in Quetzaltenango are just part of a series of celebrations held across Central America to mark the region’s independence from Spain.
On Wednesday, groups of people from surrounding areas came to light traditional torches which they would then take back to their places of origin.
This year marks 201 years since independence.
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