At least 78 people have died in a stampede in Yemen, according to Houthi rebels. The director of the health authority in the capital Sanaa, Mutahar al-Maruni, told the rebel-affiliated television station Al-Masirah on Thursday night. Dozens of other people were also injured. According to the Houthis, there was a deadly scramble to distribute donations late in the evening.

According to the Saba news agency operated by the Houthis, a spokesman for the local interior ministry said some traders had distributed donations without prior coordination. A mass panic then ensued. Some local media reported that the Houthis also fired shots.

In videos intended to show the scenes after the incident, numerous bodies were lined up on the ground. A video showed dozens of people crowding into a confined space while screaming loudly, some seeming to literally drown in the crowd. The tragedy is said to have happened at a donation distribution point in the Yemeni capital during the ongoing Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan.

Committee to provide clarification

The head of the High Political Council, Mahdi al-Maschat, called for an investigation into the incident. A committee designated for this purpose arrived at the scene of the incident that evening, according to a Saba report. Two suspected dealers were arrested.

Yemen is located in the south of the Arabian Peninsula. The Shiite Houthi rebels have taken over large parts of northern Yemen there in their uprising that has been going on since 2014 and also control the capital Sanaa. The rebels are supported by Shia-majority Iran. Saudi Arabia has been fighting the Houthis with allies alongside the government in the country since 2015.

One of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in the world is taking place in Yemen, mainly due to the consequences of the civil war. About 21 million people are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance and protection.