MainstreamSierra Leone

False! No fatality recorded from Bo Stadium incident

Claim: An online news platform, Theorganiser.net, claims that Bo Stadium collapsed and killed some school girls. 

False! No fatality recorded from Bo Stadium incident

Verdict: False! The entire stadium did not collapse as widely shared; however, a railing broke and fell off. Also, no fatality was recorded. 

Full Text 

On December 14, 2019, the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Fatima Maada Bio, launched the Maada and Fatima Foundation’s Free Sanitary Pad for School Children’s Initiative. The First Lady has been distributing sanitary pads to children nationwide since then.

As part of the continuation of the project, President Dr Julius Maada Bio, on Thursday, February 2, 2023, officially launched phase II of the initiative. He was at Bo Mini Stadium, Southern Province of Sierra Leone, on Thursday to distribute Free Sanitary Pads to girls in secondary schools.

False! No fatality recorded from Bo Stadium incident
The President Julius Maada Bio & First Lady Fatima Maada Bio at the launch of the Free Sanitary Pads Initiative in 2019. 

Following the Thursday event, several posts, including a publication by Theorganizer.net have surfaced on the internet, alleging that the stadium collapsed and resulted in the death of unidentified school girls. Further, the report claimed the supposed victims were used as human sacrifices by the President and his First Lady to win the upcoming election. 

“The Bios surely want the blood of school girls for Juju purposes to win the 2023 elections,” parts of a report reads. 

In reaction to the online allegations, the Ministry of Information and Communications released a press statement confirming the accident. According to the statement, a supporting guard rail fell due to pressure exerted by many beneficiaries, resulting in several girls sustaining minor injuries. 

“Contrary to widespread social media reports that the mini stadium collapsed, the Ministry has confirmed that it was one of the supporting guard rails, which gave way due to extra pressure exerted on it by the large number of children who were at the stadium to benefit from the distribution and witness the event,” the Ministry said.

The press statement added that the children affected had been immediately taken to a hospital in the city for free medical care. 

“Swift action was taken by authorities at the scene to provide First Aid and immediately take the affected children to the Bo government hospital where they are now receiving the best of care,” it said. 

This is also consistent with the president’s tweet.

Verification

DUBAWA first contacted The organiser.net, who claimed that Bo Stadium collapsed and killed some school girls, to provide evidence of the pupils they claimed died. All efforts by DUBAWA to get the online platform to respond proved futile. A Whatsapp message sent to the platform’s editor was not responded to.  

DUBAWA decided to proceed with this investigation from two perspectives: whether or not the stadium collapsed and whether fatalities were recorded.

  1. Did Bio Stadium Collapse?

DABUWA visited the incident site and confirmed that the Stadium still stands, but the railings indeed fell. This is as captured in the images below.

False! No fatality recorded from Bo Stadium incident
False! No fatality recorded from Bo Stadium incident
Pictures of the fraction of the Stadium where the railing broke.

DUBAWA also spoke to an eyewitness, Ibrahim Sesay, who confirmed that it was the railing that fell off due to the weight of students leaning on it during the ceremony. 

He said that after the railing fell off with the school girls, there was swift intervention from the Bo medical team alongside the Sierra Leone Police, of which the affected school girls were rushed to the Bo Government Hospital for proper treatment. 

He confirmed that no fatalities were reported at the incident. Mamie Sandi, one of the parents of the affected school girls, in an interview, also informed DUBAWA that since the incident happened, no one has been reported dead.

“I have been in constant discussion with colleagues’ parents whose children were also affected, but nobody has confirmed any death of their children or child,” she revealed.

DUBAWA performed a keyword search, which yielded several results providing details about the event. One was a video from the venue shared by First Lady Fatima Maada Bio. In the video, the First Lady said that the news on social media that the entire stadium had collapsed and everybody died was false. She further showed the railing that fell off and explained it was due to the weight of students leaning on it. False! No fatality recorded from Bo Stadium incidentFalse! No fatality recorded from Bo Stadium incident

Similarly, a Facebook video shared by Honourable Miracle, a Journalist, further dispelled the viral claim the stadium collapsed. The commentator in the video assured viewers that the stadium did not collapse and focused her camera on the affected railings.

“Have you seen where those people are standing? The iron that was there broke, which resulted in the incident. From where that young man is standing with the Maroon shirt to where that blue is, the iron broke with the school girls. When people are lying that it is the entire stadium that collapsed,” The Commentator said in Krio, a local language in Sierra Leone.

  1. Did anyone die from the incident?

The District Medical Officer at the Bo Government Hospital, Dr Prince E.K Masuba, in an interview with DUBAWA, said that a total of 492 pupils who were affected during the incident were taken to the Bo Government Hospital. Three of the pupils were badly injured and were taken to Freetown for proper medical care.

Masuba said that as of Friday, February 24, 2023, all the affected pupils, including those transferred to Freetown, had been discharged with no death.

He said that the World Health Organization Country Office in Sierra Leone swiftly responded to a call by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to replenish medical supplies at the Hospital due to the emergency response by the hospital team to the mass casualty incident that depleted the routine stockpile of medical supplies of the hospital. 

The District Medical Officer said that the WHO Country Office donated a consignment worth about US$ 50,000, including medicines and other medical consumables, “to facilitate uninterrupted routine service delivery at the hospital in the immediate aftermath of the incident.”

Additionally, the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education, Dr Moinina David Sengeh, said that the incident did occur, but there were no fatalities. 

Conclusion 

The social media claims that school children lost their lives in a stampede at  Bo Stadium’s railings collapsed are false. Findings show that some students sustained injuries from a railing guard that fell off; however, no life was lost. 

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