Indonesian authorities say 125 dead in attack on soccer stadium

  • Around 180 injured in mass onslaught
  • The Indonesian Football Association suspends the league for investigation
  • Police say they fired tear gas to keep the crowd under control

MALANG, Indonesia, Oct. 2 (Reuters) – A stampede at a soccer stadium in Indonesia has killed at least 125 people and injured 180 after police tried to quell violence on the pitch, authorities said on Sunday in one of the world’s worst stadium disasters With .

Officials fired tear gas to disperse angry supporters of the losing home team who burst onto the field after Saturday night’s final whistle in Malang, east Java, the region’s police chief Nico Afinta told reporters.

“It had become anarchic. They started attacking officers, they damaged cars,” Nico said, adding that the rush happened as fans fled to an exit gate.

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Some local officials had put the death toll at 174, but East Java Deputy Governor Emil Dardak said the death toll was later lowered to 125.

The earlier number may have included double deaths, he said.

The stadium disaster appeared to be the world’s worst in decades.

Video footage from local news channels showed fans pouring onto the pitch after Arema FC lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya at around 10pm (1500GMT), followed by scuffles and what appeared to be clouds of tear gas and unconscious fans being carried out of the venue.

Many victims at nearby Kanjuruhan Hospital suffered from trauma, shortness of breath and lack of oxygen due to the large number of people at the scene affected by tear gas, paramedic Boby Prabowo said.

The director of another hospital in the area told Metro TV that some victims suffered brain injuries and that a 5-year-old was among the fatalities.

President Joko Widodo said authorities needed to thoroughly examine security at matches, adding he hoped this would be “the last football tragedy in the nation”.

Jokowi, as the president is known, has instructed the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) to suspend all matches in the top division, BRI Liga 1, pending the completion of an investigation.

RULES FOR TEAR GAS

The World Football Association FIFA specifies in its safety regulations that no firearms or “crowd control gas” should be carried or used by stewards or police officers.

East Java Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether they were aware of such regulations.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a statement to Reuters that the football world was “in a state of shock following the tragic events in Indonesia” and that the event was “a dark day for all involved”.

FIFA has requested a report on the incident from the PSSI, which has dispatched a team to investigate in Malang, PSSI Secretary General Yunus Nusi told reporters.

Indonesia’s Human Rights Commission also plans to investigate security at the site, including the use of tear gas, its commissioner told Reuters.

“Many of our friends lost their lives because officials dehumanized us,” said Muhammad Rian Dwicahyono, 22, crying while tending a broken arm at the local Kanjuruhan hospital. “Many lives were wasted.”

Mourners gathered outside the stadium gates on Sunday to lay flowers for the victims.

Amnesty International Indonesia criticized the security measures, saying that “the use of excessive force by the state … to contain or control such crowds cannot be justified at all”.

The country’s top security minister, Mahfud MD, said in an Instagram post that the stadium was filled beyond its capacity. Around 42,000 tickets were issued for a stadium designed for 38,000 people, he said.

INDONESIAN SOCCER SCENE

Financial aid will be provided to the injured and families of the victims, East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa told reporters.

Problems have arisen at matches in Indonesia before, with fierce rivalries between clubs sometimes leading to violence among fans.

Crowds fill the stadiums, but the football scene in Indonesia, a country of 275 million people, has been ravaged by hooliganism, brutal policing and mismanagement.

Zainudin Amali, Indonesia’s sports minister, told KompasTV the ministry will reassess security at football matches, including considering not allowing spectators into stadiums.

Regular stadium disasters have horrified fans around the world. In 1964, 328 people were killed in a scrum when Peru hosted Argentina at the Estadio Nacional.

A British disaster in 1989 crushed 96 Liverpool supporters to death when an overcrowded and fenced-off enclosure at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield collapsed.

Indonesia is set to host the FIFA U-20 World Cup in May and June next year. They are also one of three countries bidding to host next year’s Asian Cup, the continent’s equivalent of the European Championship, after China withdrew as hosts.

The head of Asian Football AssociationShaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said in a statement he was “deeply shocked and saddened to hear such tragic news from football-mad Indonesia,” and expressed his condolences to the victims, their families and friends.

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Reporting by Yuddy Cahya Budiman and Prasto Wardoyo in Malang, Stefanno Sulaiman and Stanley Widianto in Jakarta and Tommy Lund in Gdansk. Writing by Kate Lamb. Edited by Ed Davies, William Mallard, Kim Coghill and Frances Kerry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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