Ghana 'holy water' stampede kills 4


Gerturde Sumbamala looks at her left leg on a bed in a hospital in Accra after it was broken in a crush in an evangelist church on May 19, 2013. The offer of free anointing water at a popular church caused a stampede that killed four and wounded 30.


Chris Stein

An unexpectedly large crowd overwhelmed police in Ghana on Sunday when thousands showed up at TB Joshua's Synagogue Church of All Nations in Accra for holy water, creating a stampede that killed four people and injured 30 others.

"All of us were caught by surprise. No one knew the crowd will be so huge," said police spokesman Freeman Tetteh.

Thousands of worshippers gathered at the evangelical church run by prominent Nigerian preacher TB Joshua in hopes of getting some of the holy water, which they believed had healing powers that could cure illnesses.

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The stampede started when people at the back of the church began to push to get to the altar.

"The church was also caught by surprise... Nobody can apportion blame [at this stage]," Tetteh said. "We need to investigate and establish responsibility."

Gertrude Sumbamala suffered a broken leg in the incident when she decided to go to the church after traveling from Ghana's far northwest for an interview for a job promotion.

"We went there as early as four in the morning," she said. "People from the back, they pushed... and they fell on us. So we were battered by a lot of forces."

TB Joshua is one of the wealthiest and most popular clerics in Africa, and is known for his prophecies about world events. His church claims it can perform miracles, such a curing blindness.