In what will come across as a really shocking development, no fewer than 127 people have died at a football stadium in Indonesia when fans invaded the pitch and police responded with tear gas, triggering a stampede, officials said Sunday.
Arema FC supporters at the Kanjuruhan stadium in the eastern city of Malang stormed the pitch late on Saturday after their team lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya, the first loss in more than two decades to their bitter rival.
Police, who characterised the unrest as “riots”, tried to persuade fans to return to the stands and fired tear gas after two officers were killed.
Many of the victims were trampled to death, according to police.
“In the incident, 127 people died, two of whom are police officers. Thirty-four people died inside the stadium and the rest died in hospital,” East Java police chief Nico Afinta said in a statement on Sunday.
Afinta said many people were crushed and suffocated when they ran to one exit.
Images captured from inside the stadium during the stampeded showed huge amounts of tear gas and people clambering over fences.
People were carrying injured spectators through the chaos.
The Indonesian government apologised for the incident and promised to investigate the circumstances surrounding the stampede.
“We’re sorry for this incident… this is a regrettable incident that ‘injures’ our football at a time when supporters can watch football matches from the stadium,” Indonesian Sports and Youth Minister Zainudin Amali told broadcaster Kompas.
“We will thoroughly evaluate the organisation of the match and the attendance of supporters. Will we return to banning supporters from attending the matches? That is what we will discuss.”
The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) suspended football matches for one week, banned Arema FC from hosting home games for the rest of the season and said it would send an investigation team to Malang to establish the cause of the crush.
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BREAKING: 127 Die After Riot At Football Match In Indonesia pic.twitter.com/hDFOYj0wNy
— DAILY GIST (@NaijamediaNews) October 2, 2022