- Deadly Collapse Mars Celebration in Gondar
ADDIS ABEBA – Epiphany (Timket) that symbolizes the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan has been celebrated by followers of Orthodox Christians across Ethiopia.
In Jan Meda, Orthodox Church Patriarch Abune Mathias said in benediction on Monday that the celebration was a reminder for the need for peace, compassion, and love.
Epiphany is a two-day celebration as on the eve a replica of the Ark of the Covenant (Tabots) are carried out from churches to pitch overnight in tents.
On the day of Epiphany, holy water is sprinkled on the worshipers by the clergy and the Holy Tablets are returned to their respective churches with crowds singing spiritual songs.
The celebration was registered by UNESCO as Intangible World Heritage last month.
In Gondar, President Sahlework Zewde congratulated Ethiopians for the inscription of the heritage.
The registration of Timket by UNESCO is beneficial to build the image of the country, the President said, adding efforts will be made to enlist other heritages as well.
Timket is the fourth intangible cultural heritage of Ethiopia inscribed on UNESCO’s list of Intangible World Heritage of Humanity, next to Meskel, the Geda system, and Fichee Chambalala.
President Sahlework urged the current generation to take the responsibility of preserving heritages.
– Deadly Collapse –
The celebration in Gondar marred by a deadly collapse of a wooden stand. At least three people have died and a hundred more people are injured, according to various sources. Some reports put the death toll at 10.
The accident occurred just before 8 a.m. Monday in the historic city, where every year more than a million people gather for the epiphany festivities.
Hundreds had been sitting on a tiered wooden structure for hours when it collapsed. Witnesses fleeing the scene said an untold number were crushed, suggesting the casualty count could rise.
The stand was set up for up to 1,000 people but it became overloaded and collapsed, said Tesfa Mekonnen, security chief for the city of Gondar.
“Youngsters wanted to participate so they climbed up, so there were too many and it was overloaded,” said Tesfa in Gondar, a city 700 kilometers north of Addis Ababa and the former seat of the royal empire.
Emergency vehicles struggled to part the crowd to enter the site and take victims to the hospital.
Once the site was cleared, however, the festival resumed and lasted until mid-morning.
More than 15,000 foreigners were attending the celebration. Two foreigners sustained minor injury, according to Amhara mass media.
Image: Worshipers attending the Timket celebrations, which marks the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, at Medhane Alem Cathedral in Addis Ababa [Photo AFP].