The tragedy happened as hundreds of people flocked to the school in hopes of receiving aid at a charity event in Sana’a.
At least 78 people were killed in clashes at a school in the Yemeni capital Sana’a days before Eid al-Fitr, according to Houthi officials and media.
The crash happened late Wednesday as hundreds of people gathered at a school in Sana’a’s Bab al-Yemen district in hopes of receiving a donation of about $10 from traders to mark the final days of Ramadan.
A video posted by Houthi television on the Telegram messaging app showed a crowd of people gathering, some shouting and screaming and being dragged to safety. Security personnel pushed people away and struggled to control the crowd.
Separate footage released by the Houthis, who control the capital, showed bloodstains, shoes and clothes of victims strewn on the ground as investigators probed the area.
Witnesses Abdel-Rahman Ahmed and Yahya Mohsen told The Associated Press that armed Houthis fired into the air in an attempt to control the crowd, apparently hitting a power line, which caused panic among bystanders.
However, Al Jazeera could not independently ascertain the reasons for the crackdown.
Brig Abdel-Khaleq al-Aghri, a spokesman for the Houthi-controlled interior ministry, described the incident as “tragic”, blaming the “random distribution” of funds without coordination with local authorities.
The ministry said that two traders who organized the event have been detained and are being investigated. The Houthis announced that they would pay $2,000 in compensation to each family who lost a relative, and about $400 to those who were injured.
At least 73 of the injured were taken to Al-Thawrah Hospital in Sana’a, according to hospital deputy director Hamdan Bagheri, as families rushed to the hospitals in search of their loved ones.
Al Jazeera’s Mohammed al-Attab, reporting from Sana’a, said the disaster “sparked nationwide outrage”.
Sana’a has been under Houthi control since the country’s internationally recognized government was ousted in 2014.
That led to the intervention of a Saudi-led coalition a year later.
More than 150,000 people, including militants and civilians, have been killed in the conflict, one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.
More than 21 million people in Yemen, or two-thirds of the country’s population, are in need of assistance and protection, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
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