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Concert rush in Guatemala with at least 9 dead and 20 injured

According to emergency services, the victims died in a crowd of people during an event celebrating the country’s independence.

At least nine people were killed and 20 others injured in a rush to an outdoor concert in western Guatemala, rescue workers said.

Local media reported that victims were crushed when thousands of people tried to climb an open-air esplanade at the end of a concert during the traditional “Xelafer” festival in Quetzaltenango, some 200 km (125 miles) west of the capital, Guatemala City to leave early on Thursday.

First responders helped the injured and ambulances were at the scene, as shown by images posted by the Guatemala Red Cross on Twitter.

“The Guatemalan Red Cross and volunteer firefighters stabilized more than 20 wounded and nine people died at the scene,” the aid organization said tweeted.

The event was held to mark Independence Day in the Central American country, local media said.

Translation: Preliminary reports of nine dead and more than 20 injured after a crowd in Zone 9 of Xela. Relatives have come to identify the bodies of their relatives at the site of a concert celebrating Guatemala’s independence.

Nancy Queme, who was at the concert, told the Associated Press news agency that thousands of people attended the concert. “There was a lot of mud because of the rain,” she said. “I think that’s why people couldn’t move and fell.”

The bands’ line-up had started playing Wednesday afternoon, and Queme said there were families with children even in the early hours of Thursday morning.

“They cordoned off the entire area, leaving only two entrances [points],” she said. “The entrances seemed very small to me. I stayed quite far back and decided to leave minutes before the end of the concert.”

The injured, some with suspected broken bones, were taken to the hospital, the local fire department said on Twitter.

The names of the dead have not yet been named by the authorities, the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre reported.

Local media reported that two children were among the dead. Al Jazeera has not been able to independently verify this information.

Quetzaltenango City Manager Amilcar Rivas said organizers of the event did not have a handle on security and crowd control. He said the event has a permit.

Local media said the event was organized by a beer company.

It was the first time in three years that Guatemala celebrated its independence from Spain in 1821, after the previous two years’ celebrations were canceled due to COVID-19.

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