Crowd chaos at faith healer show

BBC News/November 4, 2002

Up to 2,000 people had to be turned away from a faith healer's performance after huge crowds gathered outside the venue. Several people needed treatment after escaping the crush and one person suffered a heart attack as they waited to see American TV evangelist Benny Hinn.

Police officers using loud hailers told fans they would not be able to get into the free performance at Manchester's MEN Arena.

It is believed as many as 19,000 people turned up for Saturday's event - but organisers had only issued 17,000 tickets.

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It is thought there was confusion over "guest passes" issued, which some fans thought were tickets to the venue.

Mr Hinn is one of America's most famous evangelists, and has his own daily television show, This Is Your Day.

A second appearance on Sunday passed off without incident after organisers warned fans without tickets not to turn up.

'Terribly disappointed'

Don Price, from his ministry team, said they were "terribly disappointed" that some people could not get into the arena to see Saturday's show.

Greater Manchester Police said the pressure of people trying to get into the venue resulted in a number of fans suffering crush injuries.

A police spokesman said problems began at about 1800 GMT on Saturday.

He said there was heavy congestion in tunnels leading from the city's Trinity Way to the venue which is near Victoria railway station in the city centre.

The police spokesman said: "We were concerned because a lot of people were in the tunnels approaching the venue.

"There was also a problem because many of the people who were attending were not too well because, of course, they wanted to see the faith healer.

'Confusion Caused'

"The ambulance service reported that it was a major incident."

However, no one was seriously injured in the crush.

Jon Knight, general manager at the MEN Arena, said: "Confusion was caused by the fact that the organisers issued what they said were guest passes.

"Unfortunately many people mistook these as tickets for the event."

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