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Ivory Coast Mourns Stampede Victims

A man lays flowers at a tree on the street of Abidjan where at least 60 persons died in a stampede among crowds gathered for celebratory New Year's Eve fireworks, January 2, 2013.
The Ivory Coast began three days of national mourning, on Wednesday, after a stampede led the deaths of at least 60 New Year's revelers, many of them teenagers.

Many of the victims were crushed to death or suffocated during the incident, which took place in Abidjan, on Tuesday.

Investigators are not certain what prompted the stampede, which occurred near a stadium where hundreds of thousands of people had gathered to watch fireworks.

In 2009, a stampede at the same stadium left 22 people dead.

On Tuesday, Ivorian journalist Landry Kohon told VOA that two large waves of people, moving in opposite directions, bumped into each other on a narrow street.

Another witness, Amara Traore, said that law enforcement blocked an exit in the area, which kept the crowd from moving.

Also, some witnesses said the large crowd may have reacted to thieves who were trying to pickpocket or snatch items from revelers.

At least 50 people were wounded in the incident. On Tuesday, President Alassane Ouattara visited some of the victims at a hospital.