At least 79 killed, 110 injured in Yemen charity distribution stampede

At least 79 killed, 110 injured in Yemen charity distribution stampede
At least 79 people were killed and 110 injured as a stampede broke out during a charity handout in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital Sanaa
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Millions of Yemenis live in poverty and are in desperate need of aid [Getty File Image]

At least 79 people were killed and more than 100 injured in a stampede that broke out in Yemen's capital Sanaa during a charity distribution, Houthi health officials told AFP on Thursday.

The dead and injured have been moved to nearby hospitals and those responsible for the distribution were taken into custody, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the Houthis' Saba news agency.

Authorities have called for an investigation.

The Houthi interior ministry did not provide an exact toll but said "dozens of people were killed due to a stampede during a random distribution of sums of money by some merchants".

The distribution in the Bab al-Yemen area of Houthi-controlled Sanaa came days ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Videos circulating on social media showed bodies lying on the ground inside a large complex as people clamoured around them.

AFP could not independently verify the authenticity of the footage.

Yemen's conflict broke out in 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized Sanaa, prompting a Saudi-led coalition to intervene the following year to prop up the internationally recognised government.

Fighting in Yemen has triggered what the United Nations describes as one of the world's worst humanitarian tragedies.

More than 21.7 million - two-thirds of the population - need humanitarian assistance this year, according to the UN.