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Death toll rises to 16 in stampede at church event in Angola

At least 16 people were crushed to death during a stampede at a religious vigil held on New Year's Eve. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

Updated at 10:40 a.m. ET: The death toll from a New Year's Eve stampede at a religious gathering in the Angolan capital Luanda has risen to 16, the state-owned daily newspaper Jornal de Angola reported Wednesday.

The victims, including about 120 people who were injured, were trying to enter an overcrowded stadium for a vigil organized by a Pentecostal church, the state news agency Angop said Tuesday.


Angop cited an emergency services spokesman as saying the victims, including four children, were crushed at the gates of the Cidadela Desportiva stadium, where the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God organized a vigil on Monday night.

Angop cited Paulo de Almeida, the deputy leader of the Angolan police, as saying appropriate security measures for the vigil had been put in place but attendance exceeded estimates.

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He said that around 150,000 people tried to attend the event at a stadium that has capacity for 50,000.

The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God is a Pentecostal Christian church created in 1977 in Brazil, where it has over 8 million followers, according to its own website. The church says it is present in most countries of the world.

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Ferner Batalha, the church's deputy bishop for Angola, said the vigil had been overcrowded.

"Our expectation was to have 70,000 people, but that was surpassed by far," Angop cited him as saying.

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