Indonesia: At least 129 dead after mass movement at stadium

Indonesia: At least 129 dead after mass movement at stadium

Indonesia woke up on Sunday to one of the worst stadium tragedies of all time. At least 129 people died in a mass movement when thousands of fans stormed into a soccer field and were tear gassed.

The tragedy, which struck Saturday night in the city of Malang east of the island of Java, also left some 180 injured in this Southeast Asia archipelago, where rivalries between supporters often resulted in disaster.

Arema FC team fans took to the pitch at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang City after their team lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya. It was the first time in more than twenty years that Arema FC lost to its great rival.

Police, who described the incident as a “riot,” tried to convince fans to return to the stands and fired tear gas after two officers were killed. Many victims were trampled to death.

Survivors described panicked onlookers being held down by crowds as police fired tear gas.

– large amounts of tear gas –

Footage captured at the stadium shows a huge amount of tear gas and people clinging to the barriers, trying to escape. Others carried injured passers-by and made their way through the chaos.

“The police used tear gas and people immediately rushed out, crowding each other, and that caused a lot of casualties,” Doni, a 43-year-old viewer, told AFP, who declined to give his last name.

“There was nothing, no riots. I don’t know what happened, they suddenly fired tear gas,” he said. “What shocked me is that they didn’t think about women and children?”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered “a full assessment of football matches and security procedures” on Sunday following the incident.

He urged the National Football Association to suspend all games pending “safety improvement.”

“I deeply regret this tragedy and I hope this football-related tragedy will be the last in our wake,” he said in a televised address.

A hospital director told local television that one of the victims was only five years old.

The stadium held 42,000 people and was full, according to the authorities. About 3,000 of them stormed the field in anger after the game.

– desolation –

A harrowing spectacle in front of the stadium on Sunday morning testified to the unrest of the day before: charred vehicles, including a police truck, were on the streets. The police found 13 burned vehicles.

The Indonesian government has apologized for this incident.

“We are sorry for this incident (…) It is a regrettable incident that + hurts our football + at a time when fans can attend a game in a stadium,” said after a long break during the COVID-19 -Pandemic Indonesian sport and youth minister Zainudin Amali told Kompas TV.

Mea culpa also on the part of the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI), which has suspended all games scheduled for this week.

“We are sorry and apologize to the families of the victims and everyone involved in this incident,” said PSSI President Mochamad Iriawan.

Fan violence is a problem in Indonesia, where longstanding rivalries have resulted in deadly clashes.

Some matches – the most important being the Persija Jakarta-Persib Bandung derby – are so tense that players from top teams have to go there under heavy protection.

Persebaya Surabaya fans were not allowed to purchase tickets for the game for fear of incident.

The head of the Asian Football Confederation expressed his regret at the loss of life.

“I am deeply shocked and saddened to hear such tragic news from Indonesia, a country that loves football,” Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said in a statement.

Indonesia is set to host next year’s U-20 World Cup in multiple stadiums across the country, but Malang is not one of them.

In 1989, a mob killed 97 Liverpool fans at Hillsborough Stadium in the UK, and in 2012 Egypt’s Port Said Stadium suffered another tragedy that left 74 dead.

In 1964, a crowd at Lima’s National Stadium during a qualifying match between Peru and Argentina killed 320 and injured more than a thousand.


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