Ivory Coast returns stampede bodies to families

January 9, 2013 - 12:32 PM
Ivory Coast Stampede

A young relative weeps during a memorial service for the 64 people killed in a New Year's stampede, as family members came to claim the bodies of their loved ones at Treichville's University Hospital Center morgue, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. Officials said Saturday that the New Year's stampede was caused by a combination of several factors including unofficial tree trunk barricades, the narrowing of a major thoroughfare, bad lighting and a shortage of police officers.(AP Photo/Emanuel Ekra)

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — An Ivory Coast official says the government has begun handing over the bodies of those killed in a New Year's stampede to their families.

Serges Kanon, communications chief for the Ministry of Solidarity, said Wednesday the first set of families retrieved their dead and were also given roughly $2,000 per family to help with funeral costs. The ceremony was presided over by Solidarity Minister Anne Desiree Ouloto.

He said such ceremonies would continue until all the bodies are returned to their families.

The stampede killed 64 people who were trampled after a New Year's fireworks display in the commercial capital of Abidjan.

A government probe has blamed the tragedy on an array of factors including darkness, unofficial tree trunk barricades and a shortage of police officers.