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Tuesday, 04 August 2020

Former Togo goalkeeper among 6 dead in bus crash

Former national team goalkeeper Charles Balogou was among six people killed when a bus carrying players and officials from a topflight club plunged into a ravine and caught fire

AP, Sunday 27 Nov 2011
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Togo football federation spokesman Aime Ekpe said another 25 people from the Etoile Filante delegation—19 of them players—plus the driver were injured in Saturday’s crash.

Ekpe said Sunday that club secretary general Christophe Dagdovi, deputy coach Isidore Kouma, a female reporter attached to the club, a cook and a team doctor were killed alongside Balogou in the accident in Glei, about 130 kilometers north of the capital Lome.

The federation later said eight of the 32 people who were traveling on the bus for Sunday’s league game in the city of Sokode were being treated for severe burns after the injured were taken to the military wing of the Lome Central Hospital.

Others had various injuries, which included broken limbs. Some of the players were “seriously injured,” Ekpe said.

Balogou was a Togo international in the 1970s. None of the other players involved were national team players.

Eyewitness accounts said the bus rolled several times as it crashed into the ravine after a tire was thought to have burst in Glei, near the central city of Atakpame.

Images on television showed the smoldering wreckage of the bus, which was almost completely burned to ashes. Some of the victims reportedly burned to death.

“We do not know how we managed to get out of the accident,” said one of the survivors, goalkeeper Mama Souleyman, in an interview with Togo state television from his hospital bed. “Most of the players got out of the bus before the officials could do so because they were all in the front row of the bus.

“The officials and technical staff were trapped … when the bus somersaulted several times and caught fire,” he said.

A delegation, led by sports minister Christophe Tchao, traveled to the accident site with an ambulance to evacuate the injured back to Lome on the orders of Togo President Faure Gnassingbe.

Ekpe, who also visited the crash site, said he was told that the six people died in the fire because they couldn’t get off the bus in time.

“The government reassures the football fans and the victims’ families that measures are being taken to give the injured good medical care,” Togo’s government said in a statement. “The head of state and the government offer their condolences to the bereaved families and wishes the injured a good recovery.”

The Lome-based Etoile Filante club is a seven-time Togo national league champion and was runner-up in Africa’s continental club competition in 1968.

Last year, two Togo national team officials were killed and several players hurt after a gun attack on the team’s bus as it traveled to the African Cup of Nations tournament in Angola.

In 2007, Togo sports minister Richard Attipoe was among 22 people who died when a helicopter carrying Togolese fans and officials crashed in Sierra Leone after an African Cup qualifying match.

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