At least 37 people died in a nighttime stampede at a stadium in Congo-Brazzaville, local authorities announced.
The army of the central African country, also known as the Republic of Congo, announced a recruitment drive last week aimed at hiring 1,500 people aged 18 to 25.
The announcement has led to up to 700 people a day expressing interest at recruiting centers in recent days, the Associated Press reported.
On Monday, thousands of young people reportedly gathered in front of the Michel d’Ornano stadium, in the heart of the country’s capital, Brazzaville, to witness the registration process taking place there.
Registrations were due to open on Tuesday morning, the BBC wrote.
But the enormous interest and urgency generated by the approaching registration deadline led many people to gather outside the stadium hours before the gates opened.
Brandon Tsetou, a graduate who survived the horrific incident, said he had been waiting in line outside the stadium since Monday morning.
He told AP: “According to the organizers, it was supposed to be the last day. That’s why many of us decided to wait until late at night, hoping to register.”
The survivor went on to claim that the stampede may have been caused by some people trying to force their way through the stadium gates.
He said: “Some were so impatient that they had to force their way in, causing a stampede which left many dead or injured, which we deplore.”
Although the number of victims was shared with the media, Congolese Prime Minister Anatole Collinet Makosso did not specify the number of people injured in the crush.
However, he specified in a press release that a “crisis unit” had been set up under his authority. Mr Makosso also described the stampede as a “tragedy”.
The enormous interest in this recruitment campaign is explained by the high youth unemployment rate in Congo-Brazzaville, estimated at around 42 percent.