At least 73 people are dead as the result of a stampede at a stadium in Manilla. Hundreds of people showed up hoping to get into a popular television game show offering cash and prizes.
Vice President Noli de Castro had put the death toll at 79, with other estimates even higher. But Health Secretary Francisco Duque told Reuters there had been some double-counting of victims, adding that 353 people were injured.
Most of the dead were elderly women, crushed against a closed steel gate at the bottom of a slope or trampled underfoot. One child was killed, hospital officials said.
Some witnesses said chaos erupted when someone shouted “bomb” but others reported a railing collapsed as people were being let into the stadium, causing guards to panic and slam shut the gate on the surging crowd.
“My mother came here hoping to win a prize,” said one man in his 20s, holding her dead hand and sobbing.
Some tickets for the first anniversary celebration of the game show “Wowowee,” which picks contestants at random from the audience, were given out earlier in the week.
But thousands of fans, many of them poor, camped out for days for a chance at the usual jackpot of 1 million pesos ($19,230) and special prizes of a car and a house with land.
The thought of winning gave them hope of ending their poverty. Instead, they end up paying the ultimate price.