President Peter Mutharika was forced to missed the Independence day cerebrations at the Bingu National Stadium (BNS) following the death of eight people – including seven children – in a stampede ahead of friendly between top sides Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers.
Despite the deaths, the match did go ahead in a packed stadium, although President Mutharika did not attend as planned.
He offered his condolences and said the government would do all it could to assist the families of the bereaved.
Mutharika said he was shocked to learn of the tragedy.
Police said the stampede occurred when spectators forced open the gates at the stadium where a football match was due to take place during celebrations marking 53 years of Malawi’s independence from British rule.
At least 40 others were injured, police said.
“We can now confirm that eight people have died, that is seven children and one adult, and 40 people are injured,” Inspector General of Police Lexan Kachama said.
“We expect the number to rise. They forced the gates open and a stampede ensued,” said police in a statement.
Minister of labour, manpower development, youth and sports, Henry Mussa was the guest of honor at the cerebrations.