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Ethiopia’s Epiphany celebration ends with nine reported deaths

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At least nine people were killed on Monday, 20 January 2020 when a wooden seat fell down during the Epiphany celebration in Gondar city, Amhara regional state of northern Ethiopia.

According to Gondar University Referral Hospital, the accident has left a total of two-hundred and fifty people injured. Nine of them (seven men and two women) reportedly died after they were admitted to the hospital.

Dr Ashenafi Tazebe, Medical Director at the hospital, said the majority of those admitted for care left the medical institution after receiving aid.

“The accident has left at least nine celebrants dead. The victims include two foreigners and two other police officers,” Tesfa Mekonnen, Peace and Security Division Head of the city said.

Timqat literally means “Baptism” and is the Orthodox Tewahedo celebration of Epiphany. It is celebrated on January nineteenth (or twentieth during a leap year), corresponding to the eleventh day of Terr in the Ethiopian calendar.

The cause of the accident is none but the slipping of the wooden seat and the stampede that followed, Tesfa added.

According to Dr Tazebe, thirteen of them were seriously injured, needing lengthy medical care. Eighty people are still in the hospital, he added.

Timqat celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. This festival is best known for its ritual reenactment of baptism. It is similar to such reenactments performed by numerous Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land when they visit the Jordan.