Friday, May 24, 2024

Indonesian football stadium crush leaves at least 125 dead

At least 125 people have died in a crush at an Indonesian football match that has become one of the world’s worst stadium disasters.

Hundreds were also hurt in the aftermath of home team Arema FC’s loss to bitter rivals at the overcrowded stadium late on Saturday in Malang, East Java.

The crush took place after police tear-gassed fans who invaded the pitch.

As panic spread, thousands surged towards Kanjuruhan stadium’s exits, where many suffocated.

FIFA, the world’s governing football body, states that no “crowd control gas” should be carried or used by stewards or police at matches.

The organization’s president Gianni Infantino said it was “a dark day for all involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension.”

One eyewitness told the BBC that police had fired numerous tear gas rounds “continuously and fast” after the situation with fans became “tense”.

Next to one exit gate, a hole smashed through the wall testifies to the desperation to escape the crush that developed. There are candles next to the gate, put there by supporters to remember the victims.

The doors are slanted outwards, a sign of the level of force from the inside.

Indonesian officials at one stage put the death toll in the disaster as high at 174 people, but this was later revised downward.

President Joko Widodo has ordered that all matches in Indonesia’s top league must be stopped until an investigation has been carried out.

Videos from the stadium show fans running onto the pitch after the final whistle marked the home team’s 2-3 defeat, and police firing tear gas in response.

“It had gotten anarchic. They started attacking officers, they damaged cars,” said Nico Afinta, police chief in East Java, adding that two police officers were among the dead.

“We would like to convey that … not all of them were anarchic. Only about 3,000 who entered the pitch,” he said.

Fleeing fans “went out to one point at the exit. Then there was a build-up, in the process of accumulation there was shortness of breath, lack of oxygen,” the officer added.

Videos on social media show fans clambering over fences to escape. Separate videos appear to show lifeless bodies on the floor.

The Indonesian football association (PSSI) said it had launched an investigation, adding that the incident had “tarnished the face of Indonesian football.”

Violence at football matches is not new in Indonesia, and Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya are longtime rivals.

However, Persebaya Surabaya fans were banned from buying tickets for the game because of fears of clashes.

Chief Security Minister Mahfud MD posted on Instagram that 42,000 tickets had been sold for the match at Kanjuruhan stadium, which has a stated capacity of 38,000.

President Widodo called for this to be the “last soccer tragedy in the nation” after ordering that all Liga 1 games should be paused pending an investigation.

The stampede is one of the worst stadium disasters.

In 1964, 320 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured during a stampede at a Peru-Argentina Olympic qualifier in Lima.

In 1985, 39 people died and 600 were hurt at the Heysel stadium in Brussels, Belgium, when fans were crushed against a wall that then collapsed during the European Cup final between Liverpool (England) and Juventus (Italy).

In the U.K., a crush developed at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield in 1989, resulting in the deaths of 97 Liverpool fans attending the club’s FA Cup semifinal against Nottingham Forest.

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-63105945

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