Stampede at Republic of Congo stadium kills 31

BRAZZAVILLE (Reuters) -At least 31 people were killed and dozens injured at a stadium in the Republic of Congo’s capital Brazzaville overnight, the government said on Tuesday, with local media reporting a stampede during an army recruitment drive.

The government said the “tragedy” occurred on Monday night at the Ornano stadium, where army recruitment operations were launched on Nov. 14. It did not directly refer to a stampede but said the causes of the incident were being investigated.

The recruitment process has been suspended and a day of mourning declared to pay tribute to 31 recovered bodies and over 140 injured, it said in a statement that revised an earlier reported death toll of 37.

Images shared on social media showed dozens of injured young men sprawled over the floor of a basketball court.

Local media said the stampede was triggered by young men seeking to submit their applications to join the army, an important employer in the country where little of its oil riches have trickled down to the population.

Male unemployment runs at over 20%, according to International Labour Organization figures.

In August a stampede of sports fans trying to enter Madagascar’s national stadium for the opening ceremony of the Indian Ocean Island Games killed 12 and injured around 80.

(Reporting by Jyoti Narayan in Bengaluru and Christian Elion in Brazzaville;Writing by Hereward Holland and Sofia ChristensenEditing by Andrew Heavens, Mark Potter and Sandra Maler)