March 12

This Day in History

Disaster

Mar 12, 1988:

Hail causes stampede at soccer match in Nepal

On this day in 1988, a sudden hail storm prompts fans at a soccer match in Katmandu, Nepal, to flee. The resulting stampede killed at least 70 people and injured hundreds more.

Approximately 30,000 people were watching the game between the Nepalese home team, Janakpur, and Muktijodha, of Bangladesh, at the National Stadium. A storm approached quickly and hail stones began pelting the spectators. When the fans panicked and rushed to the exits, they found the gates locked, apparently to keep people without tickets from entering the stadium. As fans continued to push forward toward the exits, there was no space for them to go. The victims of the stampede, unable to breathe, were literally crushed to death.

The stampede in Nepal seemingly did little to prevent similar disasters. A year after the tragedy at National Stadium, 96 people were crushed to death at a game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in Sheffield, England. Another 18 months later, more than 40 people were trampled to death at a game in Orkney, South Africa.

Hail on its own can also be deadly. There are several recorded instances of hail crushing people's skulls due to its size and force. In 1923 in Kostov, Russia, 23 people were killed in a single hailstorm as they attempted to save their livestock. Twenty-two were killed in Greece in 1930 from hail the size of eggs.

Nepal suffered an even worse disaster later the same year when an earthquake struck in August, killing 1,200 people and leaving thousands homeless.

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