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AP out front after Cameroon soccer stadium stampede kills 8

People come to the aid of victims after a stampede outside a stadium hosting an African Cup of Nations soccer game in Yaounde, Cameroon, Jan. 24, 2022. Eight people died as crowds struggled to get access to Olembe Stadium to watch the host country play Comoros in a knockout game of Africa’s top soccer tournament. (AP Photo / Thierry Noukeu)

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The freelance team of Edwin Kindzeka Moki and Isifu Wirfengla put AP far ahead in confirming the details of a fatal stampede at a soccer stadium in Cameroon during the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

When news started filtering out that there had been a crush and stampede at the Cameroon vs. Comoros knockout game in Yaounde,Moki rushed to the hospital instead of going to the stadium to see what had happened. That enabled him to be the first to confirm that six people had died and the count was likely to go up. (Eventually a total of eight would be dead.) He also had details on numbers of injured and quotes from hospital staff explaining the grave condtion of some of the patients and how the hospital was struggling to cope.

The accuracy of Moki’s very early reporting was confirmed the next day by officials. AP Johannesburg sports writer Gerald Imray combined Moki’s strong work with additional reporting from Olembe Stadium in the capital by sports stringer Isifu Wirfengla,who was at the game. Isifu added interviews with witnesses and those caught up in the crush,providing on-scene accounts.

AP global soccer writer Rob Harris noted that for hours after the event AP appeared to be the only English-language outlet,let alone news agency,that had confirmed the deaths and other details. Moki said he even received a call from Cameroon’s state broadcaster,surprised that AP was ahead of them. Sky News,BBC and others quoted AP at length through the first hours of the story, and some stayed with AP updates throughout the night.

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Before an Africa Cup of Nations 2022 match between Senegal and Cape Verde in Bafoussam, Cameroon, Jan. 25, 2022, players observe a minute of silence in remembrance of eight fans that died after a stampede the previous day outside Olembe Stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon. – AP Photo / Sunday Alamba
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