Children injured in Sierra Leone stadium accident during event attended by president

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Children were injured Thursday when a railing collapsed at a stadium in southern Sierra Leone where the president and first lady were holding a ceremony to distribute free sanitary pads, the authorities said.

In videos shared on social media, crowds can be seen rushing out of a stadium in the city of Bo, with many carrying people who appear to be injured.

The number of casualties was not immediately clear.

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“My heart goes out to all the children affected and the families of the kids that sustained injuries in the unfortunate incident at the Bo Stadium today,” President Julius Maada Bio tweeted.

“Our medical team are working assiduously to administer medical attention to the injured.”

The government’s office of the press secretary described “an accident involving schoolchildren when a short section of metal guardrail on one of the levels of the stadium came apart.”

It did not give an estimate of the number of people injured.

But in a statement, it added that the children affected had been immediately taken to a hospital in the city “for free medical care” and were accompanied by Health Minister Austin Demby.

A spokesperson for the ministry of information and communications said that no deaths had been reported.

A nurse at the Bo Government Hospital told AFP that at least a dozen people, most of whom were schoolchildren in uniform, had been injured.

Women’s issues are high on the agenda in presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections due to be held in the West African nation in June.

Last month, the president signed a gender quota bill into law, requiring public and private entities reserve 30 percent of their jobs for women.

Another bill, passed last summer, enables women to inherit and own land in rural areas where customary law previously blocked them.

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