- More than 320 injured during crowd stampede
- Indonesia football association suspends league to investigate
- Police say they fired tear gas to control crowd
At least 125 people have been killed and around 320 injured at a football match in Indonesia in one of the world’s worst ever sports stadium disasters, reports the Guardian.
Tragedy beyond comprehension
Attention immediately focused on the police use of tear gas, which is banned at soccer stadiums by FIFA, the world soccer body, which called the incident “a tragedy beyond comprehension.”
Some suffocated and others were trampled in the crush as fans rushed to the exits following violence after the game Saturday evening at a stadium in the city of Malang, in East Java province.
Hosts Arema FC lost to visiting side Persebaya FC 3-2, with thousands of angry supporters throwing bottles and other objects at players and soccer officials. Witnesses said fans flooded the Kanjuruhan Stadium pitch and demanded that Arema management explain why, after 23 years of undefeated home matches against rival Persebaya, this one ended in a loss.
Panic among crowd
Riot police responded by firing tear gas, including toward the stadium’s stands, causing panic among the crowds of fans.
At least 34 people died at the stadium, including two officers, officials said, and some reports include children among the casualties.
“I deeply regret this tragedy and I hope this is the last soccer tragedy in this country,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in a televised speech Sunday.
Widodo ordered an investigation of security procedures.
“We have already done a preventive action before finally firing the tear gas as (fans) began to attack the police, acting anarchically and burning vehicles,” East Java police chief Nico Afinta said in a news conference early Sunday.
More than 300 people were rushed to hospitals but many died on the way and during treatment, Afinta said.
Death toll reaches 125
National Police Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo said the death toll had been revised down to 125 after authorities found some of the victims were counted twice. More than 100 were receiving intensive treatment in eight hospitals, 11 of them in critical condition.
Television reports showed police and rescuers evacuating the injured and carrying the dead to ambulances.
Grieving relatives waited for information about their loved ones at Malang’s Saiful Anwar General Hospital. Others tried to identify the bodies laid at a morgue.
Rights groups responded to the tragedy by blaming the use of tear gas in the stadium by police.
Citing FIFA’s stadium safety guidelines against the use of “crowd control gas” by pitch side stewards or police, Amnesty International called on Indonesian authorities to conduct a swift, thorough and independent investigation into the use of tear gas at Kanjuruhan stadium.
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Source: The Guardian