At least 128 people are dead after chaos and violence erupted during an Indonesian league soccer match into the early hours of Sunday, police say, in what is one of the world’s deadliest stadium disasters of all time.
Supporters of Arema FC and rival Persebaya Surabaya, two of Indonesia’s biggest soccer teams, clashed in the stands after home team Arema FC was defeated 3-2 at a match in the city of Malang in East Java, police said.
Supporters from the losing team then “invaded” the pitch and police fired tear gas, triggering a stampede which led to cases of suffocation, East Java police chief Nico Afinta said during a press conference following the event.
Two police officers were also among the dead, the police chief said, adding that the crush occurred when fans fled for an exit gate.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi, on Sunday ordered all league matches to be halted until investigations were completed.
“I have specially requested the police chief to investigate and get to the bottom of this case,” Jokowi said in a televised speech. “Sportsmanship, humanity and brotherhood should be upheld in Indonesia.”
“I regret this tragedy and hope that it will be the last to occur in Indonesian football. We cannot have anymore (of this) in the future.”
Videos filmed from inside the stadium late into the night and shared on social media showed fans, dressed in red and blue — the home team’s colors — storming the field and clashing with Indonesian security forces, who appeared to be wearing riot gear.
Video footage broadcast on local news channels also showed images of body bags, Reuters reported.
Smoke, which appeared to be tear gas, was also seen later in videos, with several people shown being carried into a building. Officials said that many had been admitted to nearby hospitals, suffering from “lack of oxygen and shortness of breath.”
One of the worst stadium disasters in history
Located in East Java, the Kanjuruhan Stadium is used mostly for soccer matches — with its full capacity estimated at 38,000 spectators.
But 42,000 tickets were issued for Saturday’s game, according to ministry officials.
“We had anticipated the (large) numbers and suggested that the game be held in the afternoon instead but it went on in the evening,” Indonesian Chief Security Minister Mahfud MD said in a post shared on his official social media accounts.
He added that the stadium had been “filled beyond its maximum capacity.”
Source : CNN