174 dead after soccer melee, stampede in Indonesia


‘Worst stadium disaster in half a century’

Up to 174 people were killed and 180 injured in a stampede at a soccer stadium after police sought to quell violence on the pitch, officials said on Sunday, in one of the world’s worst stadium disasters.

Officers fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse agitated supporters of the losing home side who had invaded the pitch after the final whistle in Malang, East Java, on Saturday night, the region’s police chief Nico Afinta told reporters.

“It had gotten anarchic. They started attacking officers, they damaged cars,” Nico said, adding that the crush occurred when fans fled for an exit gate.

East Java Deputy Governor Emil Dardak and the local disaster agency put the death toll at 174 on Sunday afternoon, but Emil later said that figure may have included duplicate fatalities. The local health agency put the toll at 130.

There was confusion on Sunday over the death toll, which one official had put as high as 174, but the stadium disaster appeared to be the world’s worst in more than half a century.

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

Many victims at the nearby Kanjuruhan hospital suffered from trauma, shortness of breath and a lack of oxygen due to the large number of people at the scene affected by tear gas, said paramedic Boby Prabowo.The head of another hospital in the area told Metro TV that some victims had sustained brain injuries and that the fatalities included a five-year-old.

President Joko Widodo said authorities must thoroughly evaluate security at matches, adding that he hoped this would be “the last soccer tragedy in the nation.”

Jokowi, as the president is known, ordered the Football Association of Indonesia, PSSI, to suspend all games in the top league BRI Liga 1 until an investigation had been completed.

World soccer’s governing body FIFA specifies in its safety regulations that no firearms or “crowd control gas” should be carried or used by stewards or police.—Agencies


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