Scores dead in Indonesian soccer stampede

Jakarta, Oct 2 (EFE).- At least 125 people have died during a soccer match on the Indonesian island of Java, officials said Sunday.

Over 300 people have also been injured, the head of the police medical team, Nyoman Eddy, told reporters in an update on the violence that broke out between fans and the police after the game on Saturday night at the Kanjuruhan stadium in the province’s Malang city. 

Nearly 3,000 fans of the Arema home team stormed the field following their 2-3 loss to Persebaya Surabaya and clashed with police, who used tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

Indonesian authorities had initially put the death toll at 129, including two police officers, and some 180 injured, who were taken to several hospitals in the region with varying levels of injuries.

East Java Police Chief Nico Afinta said that most of the deaths occurred during a stampede that ensued when the fans tried to exit the stadium, with many of them suffocating to death.

The official added that the situation at the stadium had become “anarchic” and that the fans had started attacking the police officers and damaging cars.

The incident is one of the world’s worst soccer tragedies in recent history.

Police officers runs as they try to stop soccer fans from entering the pitch during a clash between fans at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Java, Indonesia 02 October 2022. EFE-EPA/H. PRABOWO

Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed his “deepest condolences” for the victims and announced that he had ordered a “thorough evaluation” of the country’s soccer matches and their security procedures as well as a in-depth probe into the incident.

Sports and Youth Minister Zainudin Amali told broadcaster Kompas TV that the ministry would reevaluate security at soccer matches and did not rule out the possibility of not allowing spectators in stadiums.

Meanwhile, the country’s chief Security Minister Mahfud MD said in an Instagram post that the government had already made and would continue to make improvements in the implementation of soccer matches.

Mahfud added that the number of spectators exceeded the stadium’s capacity since some 4,000 extra tickets had been sold.

After the incident, the Indonesian Football League suspended all matches for a week, while the country’s soccer association announced the opening of a fact-finding investigation.

The use of tear gas by the police has been criticized by some international organizations, including Amnesty International.

The nonprofit urged the Indonesian authorities “to conduct a swift, thorough, and independent investigation into the use of tear gas at the stadium and ensure that those who are found to have committed violations are tried in open court.”

“Tear gas should also never be fired in confined spaces. FIFA’s stadium safety guidelines also prohibit the carrying or use of ‘crowd control gas’ by pitchside stewards or police,” it added in a statement.

Photos and videos circulating on social media show thousands running towards the stadium’s field and others who are unconscious or injured as well as body bags. EFE

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