At least 8 elderly women were crushed to death in Mauritania on Wednesday as they queued to collect money donated to the poor by a businessman, a hospital source told the Agence France-Presse.
“At least 8 people were killed, all old women, and two dozen others were injured,” the source said, of the stampede which took place in the capital Nouakchott at an event at which alms were being distributed.
Known as “zakat”, giving alms to the poor is a religious duty in the Muslim-majority country.
The incident occurred as hundreds of poor men and women were waiting at the door of a courtyard where they were expecting to receive the cash, witnesses told AFP.
The situation quickly spiralled out of control with organizers unable to prevent the tragedy.
The victims were taken to the main hospital in the capital, the source said.
In Mauritania, wealthy people hand out their alms directly, but in most Muslim states this is a role more usually taken on by the state.