ABIDJAN, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- The Cote d'Ivoire authorities have declared a three-day national mourning period following a stampede that left at least 61 people dead, while President Alassane Ouattara on Tuesday called for a "speedy" inquiry into the tragedy.
During the national mourning period that began on Wednesday, all flags flew at half mast and the citizens were urged to remember the victims of the tragedy.
At the same time, the ceremony to present New Year messages to the president of the Republic which had been scheduled to take place on Wednesday has been postponed.
President Alassane Ouattara who visited the victims at the Cocody University Hospital Center (CHU) in eastern Abidjan, termed the incident as a "national tragedy" and ordered investigations to determine the causes of the accident.
The stampede occurred while thousands of people were gathering in the central administrative district of Plateau to watch a fireworks show.
In a statement from the presidency that was released after his visit to CHU in Abidjan, Ouattara affirmed that an investigation should be launched immediately to determine the circumstances under which the tragedy occurred.
He ordered that the government should proceed and take care of the victims.
On the Eve of the New Year, a huge fireworks display festival had been organized in Abidjan's administrative district of Plateau, as a culmination of a project to "light up the streets of Abidjan. " It was the second consecutive year for the city to launch the project to bring light to the main streets in yearend celebrations.
The spectators who had come in large numbers were returning to their homes after the event, when a tragedy occurred at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium.
More than 200 casualties including at least 61 deaths were recorded in the tragedy.
Witnesses said the stampede occurred after the fireworks ended near the stadium's main entrance. Some witnesses said that after the fireworks, huge crowds were moving in different directions.
Cote d'Ivoire's Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko said that over 50,000 people had gathered to admire the fireworks display in the Plateau district.
Among the victims included a number of adolescents whose age was varying between 10 to 15 years.