At Least 17 Killed in Stampede During Aid Distribution in Morocco

At Least 17 Killed in Stampede During Aid Distribution in Morocco

A stampede during a distribution of relief goods in southern Morocco killed 15 women and injured five others, according to an Interior Ministry statement on Sunday.

The tragedy occurred in Sidi Boualam, about sixty kilometres in the north-east of Essaouira, when the food distributors were overwhelmed by the crowds just before beginning the operation.

Other Moroccan media outlets reported that at least 40 people were injured during the stampede.

The interior ministry said King Mohammed VI issued orders to "provide the necessary help and support to the families of the victims and the injured".

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The Sovereign also made a decision to personally pay for the expenses of the burial and funeral of the victims, as well as for the costs of the wounded's hospitalization, it said.

Morocco's drought has led to "thirst protests" about water shortages with supplies cut to some towns for days at a time. But it was quickly "overwhelmed by the crowd", composed of nearly 800 people, mainly women. The village of Sidi Boulalam is about 60 kilometers (35 miles) from the city of Essaouira.

Distributions of food aid are common in the North African nation, notably in remote parts of the country.

Often held once a week in rural areas of Morocco, the souks are usually very busy places.

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