Accra - Four people died and 30 others were injured Sunday
in a stampede in a popular church in Ghana, caused by an offer of free
anointing water, police said.
Thousands of worshippers hoping for water that they believe
can cure illnesses gathered at the Nigerian prophet TB Joshua's Synagogue
Church of All Nations in the capital Accra, when people in the back began
pushing to get to the altar.
"In trying to get it, a stampede happened," said
police spokesperson Freeman Tetty. "Four are confirmed dead and 30 are
injured, some in critical condition."
One worshipper, Gertrude Sumbamala, who suffered a broken
leg in the incident, had travelled from Ghana's far northwest for an interview
for a job promotion, then decided to go to the church.
"We went there as early as four" in the morning,
"People from the back, they pushed... and they fell on
us. So we were battered by a lot of forces."
Innocent Adraku said her mother was also trampled by the
crowd, and was admitted to the hospital with chest pains.
"We also came to receive the anointing water, that was
all," said Adraku whose mother travelled from the regional capital Ho near
Ghana's border with Togo.
The police spokesperson said an investigation into the
stampede had been launched. No arrests were made.
Reverend Sam McCaanan told local radio station Citi News
that a planned service had been cancelled.
"We are used to numbers," he said but such an
incident was unprecedented.
"We are devastated, it's very unfortunate and we are
very sorry," he added, promising to make sure this does not happen again.
Joshua commands one of the continent's largest evangelical
Christian denominations from his base in Lagos.
He is known for his prophecies about world events and for
performing what his followers consider miracles, like curing blindness.
West Africa's second largest economy with a population of 25
million, Ghana is predominantly Christian, with evangelical Protestant churches
like Joshua's being a particularly popular segment of the religious landscape.