POSTED: 06:14 a.m. HST, Nov 20, 2013
ALGIERS, Algeria >> Celebrations for Algeria's victory over Burkina Faso that sent the country's soccer team to the 2014 World Cup finals left 12 people dead and some 240 injured, authorities reported Wednesday.
The statement from emergency services said five celebrating fans were killed when their van slid off the road into a ravine in the mountain town of Bejaia, east of Algiers, while four others died in the southern city of Biskra in a car accident.
The remaining three died in other towns, the statement added without further details. Much of the north of the country was blanketed with heavy rains Tuesday, making road conditions dangerous.
Across Algeria people poured into the streets after the final whistle Tuesday night to celebrate their team's qualification for the event in Brazil, with young men driving their cars down the streets and honking their horns with abandon.
Residents described a great deal of reckless behavior in the course of the celebrations that continued throughout the night in some cities.
It is the fourth trip to the World Cup for this soccer-mad nation and follows closely on its 2010 appearance in South Africa.
Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and other members of the government lunched with the victorious team on Wednesday. The absence of ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was noted as another sign of his increasing infirmity following a stroke in April.
The 76-year-old president was recently nominated by his party to run for a fourth term.