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Ivory Coast returns bodies from New Year's stampede to families, gives funds for funerals

  • 19eaaf55198e2001260f6a706700d3c8.jpg

    A young relative weeps during a memorial service for the 64 people killed in a New Year's stampede, as family members came to claim the bodies of their loved ones at Treichville's University Hospital Center morgue, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. Officials said Saturday that the New Year's stampede was caused by a combination of several factors including unofficial tree trunk barricades, the narrowing of a major thoroughfare, bad lighting and a shortage of police officers.(AP Photo/Emanuel Ekra) (The Associated Press)

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    Family members of victims of a New Year's stampede walk amongst coffins at Treichville's University Hospital Center morgue, where relatives were coming to claim the bodies of the 64 killed, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. Officials said Saturday that the New Year's stampede was caused by a combination of several factors including unofficial tree trunk barricades, the narrowing of a major thoroughfare, bad lighting and a shortage of police officers.(AP Photo/Emanuel Ekra) (The Associated Press)

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    Family members tend to the body of a relative killed in a New Year's stampede, as the families of the 64 victims claimed the bodies of their loved ones at the University Hospital Center morgue in the Treichville neighborhood of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. Officials said Saturday that the New Year's stampede was caused by a combination of several factors including unofficial tree trunk barricades, the narrowing of a major thoroughfare, bad lighting and a shortage of police officers.(AP Photo/Emanuel Ekra) (The Associated Press)

  • 81f4913019892001260f6a706700f0df.jpg

    Family members pray beside the body of a victim of the New Year's stampede, as relatives claimed the bodies of the 64 killed at the University Hospital Center morgue in the Treichville neighborhood of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. Officials said Saturday that the New Year's stampede was caused by a combination of several factors including unofficial tree trunk barricades, the narrowing of a major thoroughfare, bad lighting and a shortage of police officers.(AP Photo/Emanuel Ekra) (The Associated Press)

  • b970e766198b2001260f6a706700382f.jpg

    A young relative weeps during a memorial service for the 64 people killed in a New Year's stampede, as family members came to claim the bodies of their loved ones at Treichville's University Hospital Center morgue, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. Officials said Saturday that the New Year's stampede was caused by a combination of several factors including unofficial tree trunk barricades, the narrowing of a major thoroughfare, bad lighting and a shortage of police officers.(AP Photo/Emanuel Ekra) (The Associated Press)

An Ivory Coast official says the government has begun handing over the bodies of those killed in a New Year's stampede to their families.

Serges Kanon, communications chief for the Ministry of Solidarity, said Wednesday the first set of families retrieved their dead and were also given roughly $2,000 per family to help with funeral costs. The ceremony was presided over by Solidarity Minister Anne Desiree Ouloto.

He said such ceremonies would continue until all the bodies are returned to their families.

The stampede killed 64 people who were trampled after a New Year's fireworks display in the commercial capital of Abidjan.

A government probe has blamed the tragedy on an array of factors including darkness, unofficial tree trunk barricades and a shortage of police officers.

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