Liberia Mourns Loss of 29 Worshipers in New Kru Town Crusade Stampede

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MONROVIA – At least 29 worshippers, including a pregnant woman, have died in a stampede which occurred at the D. Twe Football field in the Borough of New Kru Town, outside Monrovia after a criminal gang comprising of scores of disadvantaged youths reportedly staged a hijacking and robbing attack from the main entrance of the field following the climax of the first day of an open-air crusade.

Dozens of others are hospitalized and reported missing.

Founded in 1920s, the Borough is a township located on the Bushrod Island in district # 16, Montserrado County.

The deceased include: 11 minors (six girls, five boys), and 18 adults (16 women, two men).

The victims were among thousands of other worshippers who trooped the stadium for the healing and salvation crusade which was being hosted by renowned Liberian Apostle Abraham Kromah.

Apostle Kromah, who has been nicknamed “More Grace”, is the Founder/General World of Life Outreach Mission International (WOLOMI) located in Monrovia. He is regarded for his ability to perform miracles during crusades, revivals and divine worship services.

The stampede occurred around 9PM when news broke out that the disadvantaged youths who were armed with knives, machetes and other deadly weapons were hijacking and armed robbing the first group of worshippers that made their way out of the field shortly after the end of the crusade.

Disadvantaged youths are commonly known as “zogos” in Liberia.

“I was lying down on the ground and the people were walking on me last night. I began to wake up and say your help me, your help me. I was pushing myself outside but someone was hauling my foot for me to stay there. We were under attack and it was not for free. The hole was dug right here (pointing at the entrance of the field). Another fat lady was lying right beside me and she was saying ‘my people I dying slow, slow your help me and she left right over there and died last night”, Theresa Wleh, a survivor of the stampede stated.

She narrated that while hundreds of worshippers were fighting for their lives, the “zogos” took advantage of the situation by snatching valuable items from some of those who attended the crusade.

She continued: “People were taking chairs leaving before the service could even end. The whole gate was packed. Everybody wants to get out at once. When people were fighting to get out that was when the zogos them started fighting and jerking things from people outside”.

Madam Wleh attributed the influx of worshippers at the crusade of Apostle Kromah to the increasing wave of alleged witch craft activities in the Borough.

“I wanted to come with my children at the crusade but, the voice spoke to me and say ‘leave the children home and go alone’. And so, I didn’t bring them”.

She observed that though many Liberians are in the constant habit of doubting the calling of Apostle Kromah, she believes that the renowned Liberian Clergyman was sent by God to redeem Liberia and its citizens from captivity.

Fredrick Nagbe stated: “I could have been a dead man last night; it is by the mercy of God I am standing here this morning. I don’t know how many people walked on my head and back last night. You can see the scrapping marks on my hands and face. There was screaming all over the place; people were yelling with the names of their children, family members and friends right after the crusade. There was nowhere to turn or run; but only this small entrance for thousands of people”.

Show of photos

When news of the incident broke out like a widecat fire on the Bushrod Island, parents, family members and loved ones stormed the Redemption Hospital, where the remains of the deceased were deposited, and others were undergoing treatment.

They held photographs of their family members and loved ones, inquiring from healthcare workers and others about the whereabouts of their missing relatives or spouses.

“I came to look for my 18 years old daughter. They said she came at the crusade and since yesterday I have not seen her. Your please open the gate let me go check inside for her; I want to see for myself”, an elderly woman who only described herself as Girl stated in tears.

Some of those who rushed on the scene fell to the ground and broke down in tears when it was established that their relatives or spouses were among the deceased, while others waited patiently for a listing bearing the names of victims of the incident to be placed on the bulletin by hospital workers.

Local leadership disrespected

Philip Boye Merchant is the acting Chairman of the 24 communities in the Borough.

He is also the acting Chairman of the St. Paul Bridge Community-one of the congested communities located in the Borough.

Mr. Merchant claimed to have lost two of his relatives to the incident.

He described the occurrence as sadden, but blamed organizers of the crusade for allegedly failing to inform the local authorities in the district about the holding of the crusade.

Mr. Merchant noted that the incident could have been curtailed or avoided if the organizers had involved and requested the local leadership of the Borough to be a part of the religious event and also help take ownership for the provision of security.

“Pastor Kromah disrespected the local leadership here because if you have a crusade in the Borough, we have a local leadership here. Letters should have been addressed to us to help provide private security. We own this place and this is our home”.

One-way D-Twe Field

Merchant continued: “The D. Twe field is one way. You either go to the sea or pass through the main entrance. Criminals took knives and other weapons and so, the other people decided to run back inside and people start to step on one another”.

Apart from the main entrance, two smaller entrances are at the D. Twe football field. FrontPage Africa gathered that the custodians of the field did not make available the keys to the organizers of the crusade to open the other entrances.

Mr. Merchant, however, used this medium to urge citizens and residents of the district to remain calm as government launches a full scale investigation into the tragedy.

Stop chasing signs and wonders

Another mourner, Pastor Testimony Walker Vah of the Harvest Chapel Ministries, expressed conern over the proliferation of those he called “fake prophets and pastors” in Liberia.

He said citizens should be very mindful of fake prophesies and signs and wonders being preached by some of these clergymen intended to rob their souls and belongings.

“This incident really paining my heart because I lost my aunty. What I I am expressing my feelings to is the proliferation of these young prophets that the Bible cautions us about. There is no prophet who will call for God people to gather and this kind of tragedy takes place. End time prophets are going abroad to buy miracles and they cannot show no source of their prophesying”.

“They cannot show a source of who ordain them for what they are doing or places of reference they got training. Many people are using the pulpits and they can’t even quote good scriptures or explain the Bible well”.

Crackdown on criminals

Criminal activities continue to be on the rampage in Monrovia and other parts of the country as a result of the growing wave of hardship and challenges as evidenced by the latest incident which reported stirred the stampede.

Citizens and others have blamed the situation on the influx of “zogos” on the streets and the proliferation of ghettoes in slum communities and the lack of efficiency and effectiveness on the part of officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) to either go after these criminals or act swiftly wherever acts of lawlessness are reported across the country.

Most often, these disadvantaged youths or “zogos” snatched away valuable items, including mobile phones, jewelries, among others from pedestrians, motorists and other peaceful Liberian citizens and foreign nationals during the broad day or night hours.

Others used commercial motorcycles to carry on these unwholesome acts.

But speaking in an interview with Reporters at the Redemption Hospital following the incident, former Montserrado County district # 16 Representative Dr. Edward Forh called on government to crackdown on criminals in not only the Borough, but other parts of the country.

He is a member of the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).

He noted that the criminals who attacked the worshippers following the end of the crusade should be arrested and prosecuted in keeping with the laws of Liberia.

Dr. Forh stated that it is unfortunate for the victims, some of who were breadwinners of their respective families, to loss their lives in such a tragic manner and form relative to the attitude exhibited by the “useless zogos”.

Government does not have control

The latest incident in the Borough of New Kru Town brings to two the number of times citizens have lost their lives as a result of a stampede at a stadium during open-air crusade in Liberia in less than three months.

It can be recalled that in November 2021, two children were pronounced dead, while five others were injured as a result of a stampede at the Nancy doe sports stadium in Kakata during a program for children at the end of a three-day crusade of Bishop Mohammed Sanogo.

Parents and the children trooped to the stadium when news broke out that the ministry was distributing school materials as gifts to the minors. The victims were identified as Jallah Molley, 6 and Ben Kamara, 2.

Bishop Sanogo is the Founder and General Overseer of the Messages De Vie (Messages for Life) Ministry based in Cote D’Ivoire.

He and his team were in Liberia to hold divine and miracle intervention crusades under the captioned a ‘New Liberia with Jesus” as part of his ministry’s “Impact Nation” initiative.

The “Impact Nation” initiative was created in 2014 to preach the gospel to all nations through evangelism crusades, and social actions to assist the needy people through compassion acts including the distribution of food, household materials, free medical care programs, including surgeries for children, women and men.

According to Deputy Minister for Public Affairs at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Jarlawah Tonpo, the Liberian government regrets the incident, but it has no control over it.

“It is a sad day for Liberia. We are grieving presently. People met their untimely deaths while seeking the face of God yesterday. It is not anybody’s wish to die and it is only God who knows what happened. The government regrets the situation and we are asking the almighty God for the families to take solace in the Lord and be comforted”.

“The disaster management team is around; when I say natural, these are things that we don’t have control over. Something could break out today and you don’t have control over that”.

When quizzed whether or not the government is putting in place measures to avoid the reoccurrence of the incident, Minister Tonpo stated that “the government is putting in place serious mechanisms”.

National Mourning

Meanwhile, President George Manneh Weah has declared a three-day state of National Mourning following the tragic and heavy loss of lives in the stampede which occurred in the Borough of New Kru Town outside Monrovia.

The President has ordered that the national ensign be flown at half-mast at all public buildings throughout the Republic while the nation mourns. Full details of the tragedy are still emerging.

“The President is disheartened by such a national calamity. The President has mandated the police to conduct a full-scale investigation to ascertain whether or not there is criminal culpability. He urged the authorities of the LNP to ensure the investigation is speedy and thorough, saying that anyone found liable will be dealt with by the law”, an Executive Mansion release stated.

At the same time, the Liberian leader has called on health authorities, including the Liberian National Red Cross and the Disaster Management Agency, to assist with treatment and recovery efforts.

“President Weah has conveyed his deepest sympathies to the families of the bereaved while thanking all those who provided help to the victims in the immediate aftermath of the stampede. Meanwhile, the dedication ceremony of the new Duala Market which was to be performed by the President today has been postponed indefinitely in deference to the deceased”.

The Liberian leader also led an array of government officials to the Redemption Hospital, following the incident.

Church’s statement

In a statement issued during the afternoon hours of Wednesday, the World of Life Outreach Mission International “regrets the loss of lives of several Liberians who were returning home after a daylong crusade in the township of New Kru Town”.

The statement maintained that Apostle Kromah is deeply saddened about the incident.

“As we regret such incident, the church is currently working together with the Liberia National Police (LNP) who is conducting the investigation into the incident”.

The church concludes: “We are making all efforts to get in touch with the bereaved families who lost their love ones while seeking the gospel of Jesus Christ. May the souls rest in peace”.

Early on, the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), headed by its President Bishop Koru K. Brown, led a delegation to the scene.

“What a tragedy. Liberia is mourning. The Church is weeping. We are standing on the D. Twe school campus in New Kru Town, Bushrod Island where the reported revival crusade crashed last night resulting in the unfortunate and unexpected deaths and injuries of persons. Our thoughts and prayers are with hurting and bereaved families. May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace”, Bishop Brown noted in a statement sent to FrontPageAfrica.

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