A number of schoolchildren were injured Thursday when a railing broke loose at a stadium in a southern Sierra Leone town where the president and his wife were distributing free sanitary towels, authorities said.
In videos shared on social networks, a crowd rushes out of the stadium in the town of Bo, the second largest in this small, poor West African country. Some are supporting the injured.
The accident, involving schoolchildren, happened when a small metal railing broke away from part of the stadium, the government press secretary’s office said.
The number of injured was not immediately known.
“My heart goes out to all the affected children and the families of the children who were injured in the unfortunate incident at Bo Stadium today,” President Julius Maada Bio, in power since 2018, tweeted.
“Our medical team is working diligently to administer medical care to the injured,” he added.
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. I wish all the injured a speedy recovery. 1/2
— President Julius Maada Bio (@PresidentBio) February 2, 2023
The government’s press secretary said the injured had been immediately taken to a hospital in the city “for free medical treatment”.
A nurse at the hospital said at least a dozen young people were injured, most of them schoolchildren in uniform.
A spokesman for the Minister of Information and Communication said no deaths had been reported.
President Bio has shown particular attention during his term to the place of women in society. He gave the green light to the decriminalisation of abortion and enacted a law last month to require public and private companies to reserve at least 30% of their jobs for women.
Another bill, passed last summer, allows women to inherit and own land in rural areas where customary law previously blocked them.
Presidential, legislative and local elections are scheduled for June in the country.