3 Dead, 100-Plus Injured in Collapse during Ethiopia Orthodox Epiphany Ceremony

Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Mathias, reads the benediction during the annual festival of Timkat, or Epiphany, marking the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan, in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. During Timkat celebrations elsewhere in the country, in the city of Gondar, at least three people are dead after a wooden stand erected for the event collapsed on Monday, according to a hospital source. (AP Photo)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – At least three people were killed and more than 100 others injured when a wooden stand erected for the colorful Epiphany celebration collapsed in Ethiopia on Monday, an official and hospital source said.

The security chief for the city of Gondar, Tesfa Mekonnen, did not specify the number of deaths in comments to regional broadcaster Amhara Mass Media Agency. Tesfa said two foreigners were among the injured.

The stand was meant for up to 1,000 people but it became overloaded and collapsed, Tesfa said.

A hospital source in Ethiopia’s city of Gondar confirmed that at least three people died. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Mathias, sprays holy water on Christians as they celebrate the annual festival of Timkat, or Epiphany, marking the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan, in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. (AP Photo)

The collapse occurred inside the Emperor Fasilides Bath in the northern city where several thousand Ethiopians and tourists attended the celebration commemorating the baptism of Jesus.

The Ethiopian News Agency reported that more than 15,000 foreigners attended the celebration in Gondar.

UNESCO late last year added Ethiopia’s Epiphany festivities known as Timkat to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which attracted more attendees.

Christians from the Ethiopian Orthodox church celebrate the annual festival of Timkat, or Epiphany, marking the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan, in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Monday, Jan. 20, 2020.  (AP Photo)
Christians from the Ethiopian Orthodox church receive a spray of holy water as they celebrate the annual festival of Timkat, or Epiphany, marking the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan, in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Monday, Jan. 20, 2020.  (AP Photo)
Christians from the Ethiopian Orthodox church receive a spray of holy water as they celebrate the annual festival of Timkat, or Epiphany, marking the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan, in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Monday, Jan. 20, 2020.  (AP Photo)
Christians from the Ethiopian Orthodox church celebrate the first day of the festival of Timkat, or Epiphany, in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. (AP Photo)
Christians from the Ethiopian Orthodox church celebrate the first day of the festival of Timkat, or Epiphany, in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. The annual festival celebrates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. (AP Photo)